Motivation in Montessori

Story by April 11, 2016
Here’s something not everyone knows, and it begs reminding,  in our vast world of education:

All Humans WANT to learn. Brains WANT to function. Students WANT to succeed.

Imagine a school environment where choices are made based on the needs and wants that come from within the child.  That’s intrinsic motivation, the unsung hero of Montessori Education.  It’s the experience from which creative ideas flow, where a student finds their passion in life, their purpose.

All humans want to learn. Brains want to function. Students want to succeed.

There are three main types of intrinsic goals: the desire to master a material or concept, to outperform or keep up with others, or to impress and/or work collaboratively with others. No sticker chart, no pizza party, and no shame or consequence can give that to a child. Children WANT to learn, to explore, to know. We are lucky.

Intrinsic Motivation vs. Extrinsic Motivation

Intrinsic motivation refers to behavior that is driven by internal rewards. In other words, the motivation to engage in a behavior arises from within the individual because it is intrinsically rewarding. Children are born with innate curiosity and desire to learn.

Extrinsic motivation refers to behavior that is driven by external rewards such as money, fame, grades, and praise. This type of motivation arises from outside the individual, as opposed to intrinsic motivation, which originates inside of the individual.

Here’s an exercise for grown-ups. Write down two things you do every day. The first task is something  that you want to do, and the other take is something that you have to do.  What’s your motivation? Is it from inside of you? Your drive? Your wishes? If I do this, I’ll feel great about it. Or is it from an outside source? If I don’t do it, there’s a consequence. Which task is more enjoyable?  Which task makes you feel like a more authentic person? Which is more satisfying?

Intrinsic Motivation for Montessori

How is this cultivated?

Thanks, and until next time!

About Jessie Beerman

Jessie has been a Montessori guide, ages 3-6, for 12 years, and has been a Montessori Parent for nearly 10. She has three daughters, ages 7, 7, and 9. She enjoys thinking and writing about keeping the home life consistent with Montessori Primary education.

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