The pandemic has brought about many major changes in our lives. Among these changes may have been our drive to do tasks that involve our responsibilities. Whether it is with simple things, such as doing the dishes or with the not-so-simple things, like our tasks for work, the pandemic has, at one point, made us feel lethargic, with little to no willingness to do things. This willingness or drive can also be termed as “Motivation”.
Motivation is quite difficult to define because it is more than just the willingness to do something. Rather, it involves many other things that come from ourselves and from our environment. There are two types of motivation: intrinsic and extrinsic motivation (Sennett, 2021). Intrinsic motivation is the type of motivation that comes from ourselves. This means that we are motivated to do something because we find it personally satisfying or rewarding to do. Extrinsic motivation, on the other hand, is the motivation we get from external factors or anything that does not involve the act of enjoying the work itself. For example, the parent who plays with their child is intrinsically motivated because they are doing the act out of love for their child. On the other hand, performing tasks for our job may mostly involve extrinsic motivation because having a job provides us with the income for our basic needs.
Is there a correct type of motivation?
While intrinsic motivation may seem like the more sustainable option out of the two types of motivation, the Center of Education Policy (2012) claims that the topic of motivation is something vague and challenging because we eventually arrive at the question of “Is there a ‘correct’ way of motivating ourselves or someone”? The topic of motivation is abstract and there can be many gray areas when it comes to defining what can be deemed as motivating or not motivating. As progressive educators, we do believe that just like numerous other traits and values, motivation may vary across learners. In addition, the Center on Education and Policy (2012) shares in their article that motivation declines as the child increases in grade level at school because they become too focused on becoming independent to follow the teacher’s instructions instead of becoming mindful of why they are performing a particular task (Center on Education Policy, 2012). Through these findings, it was suggested that there really is no “correct” or absolute way of motivating someone.
How can we teach motivation at home?
While motivation is a complex concept, it is not impossible to teach. Fortunately, motivation is not limited to doing one’s homework or studying for a big exam. Motivation is something that we use in our everyday lives, and as parents, it can be taught at home through making observations and making the appropriate responses to our children’s actions or behaviors.
One factor towards someone’s motivation to do something is their interest in that “something”. Therefore, it is important for caregivers and parents when offering an activity or task to young children to constantly check and ask questions that pertain to the following areas in order to foster the appropriate kind of motivation in our children:
INTEREST: Did my child show interest in this activity or task? Or did I somehow force them into being interested in it?
VALUE: Will my child understand and appreciate the outcome of doing this activity or task?
EVALUATION: Is my child happy in completing the activity or task? What will they get out of it?
These questions are great to ask ourselves before providing activities or tasks to our children, but what’s even better is that these are questions that we can ask our children directly! Communicating our desires and our children’s desires well is always an important tool when it comes to teaching and learning about complex life skills such as motivation!
Center on Education Policy. (2012). What is motivation and why does it matter? The George Washington University. https://files.eric.ed.gov/fulltext/ED532670.pdf
Psychology Today. (2009). Motivation. Psychology Today. https://www.psychologytoday.com/us/basics/motivation
Sennett, P. (2021). Understanding intrinsic and extrinsic motivation. University of Rochester. https://www.rochester.edu/emerging-leaders/understanding-intrinsic-and-extrinsic-motivation/
Photos by 童 彤 and Tanaphong Toochinda on Unsplash