What motivates learning?

 4504724163_277a8197ff_zSource: https://www.flickr.com/photos/opensourceway/4504724163

What motivates learning?  This question is pointed at both personal learning and school based learning.  For me, learning motivates.  My motivation is intrinsic, deeply personal and driven by a strong sense of curiosity and passion.  The motivation comes from a deep urge to know more, to improve, to figure things out or to break new ground.  The sense of accomplishment and pride as a result of a personal milestone feed into further motivation.

How is this different to learning at school?  Well this is a loaded question.  Sometimes the motivations are the same but there are often instances where they are not.  What motivates learning at school?  Are students intrinsically motivated, curious and passionate by learning?  Yes, at times.  Why is yes not the case all the time?  For many students, school is a fun learning environment and for others, school is done to them.  They aren’t passionate about or interested in the learning that is going on.  When that is the case, motivation is not even an option.  How do you motivate learning in this instance?  The structure of our school system in Victoria determines a score at the end of Year 12 as motivation.  This can create a culture of  students who are motivated by the knowledge that what you are currently teaching them “is going to be on the test”.  The system works for many but not for all.  Students need to be involved in the decisions about their learning.  They need a voice to share their interests, passions and questions because having a say motivates.  Fostering curiosity fosters motivation.  As teachers, it is also our duty to broaden horizons and perspectives and the “hooks of curiosity” that we use are essential for motivation.  Being involved and valued motivates learning.


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