Thursday, October 22, 2009

Motivation and balance

I've been pondering the importance of 'balance' in our lifelong learning process.  We're delighted to be keeping our kids out of school for the long haul, god willing, so I want to lay a foundation now that is sustainable for all of us.  I want my children to love learning AND develop the skills to pursue whatever goals they set.  I want to be there with the right resources at the right time, but also to know when to keep out of the way and let things unfold at their own pace.  Ideally there will be abundant curiosity, times of peace and times of excited activity, not too much conflict, plenty of love and acceptance, and freedom to pursue individual goals (including fossil collecting, drumming or designing fashion for dolls!)

I like to plant seeds of interest (mostly in science and HSIE) by borrowing a stack of books and some DVDs.  Mammals, for example, is a topic we recently explored together and greatly enjoyed (it sparked much interest about predators and prey).  We share a LOT of books, gather relevant games and toys, and sometimes the kids put together a lapbook to share what they've learned with others.  Often it spills over into art and music (they loved the Don Spencer songs like 'Dig like a wombat')  DD4 loves workbooks and often asks to do 'schoolwork'.  Then I include some textbook pages or writing in her box of possibilities.  DS5 is the opposite.  He usually hates activity books if they require his pencil to move (it's ok if I'm scribing for him), but he likes tracing and drawing when he's in the mood.  He does spelling by arranging letter tiles, or typing on the computer.  He loves books and flashcards, computer games and telling stories.  How lucky is he, when I compare his freedom to the regimentation and demands of a regular school!

I read somewhere that children know what they need and will ask for it, and I'm starting to trust that this is the case.  They ask me fascinating questions, and will learn  more than enough by pursuing these trains of inquiry.  I'm considering whether we are actually unschoolers (need to read more about it).  Not sure, but I can relate to what I've read about Natural Learning.  I don't choose to use any particular curriculum ... however I have read the scope and sequence/ curriculum frameworks of most states and some from overseas, and always feel reassured that my children are covering (and exceeding) the recommended areas for K/1 (even if they play with textbooks rather than finish them the way I'd usually expect of my students ... because the school expects me to expect that!)

Here's something I found about 'Intrinsic Motivation'.  I believe and hope it's what my children will develop as a result of being free to be kids, active in building their own education.  I found it on   ...

Definition: Intrinsic motivation refers to motivation that comes from inside an individual rather than from any external or outside rewards, such as money or grades.

The motivation comes from the pleasure one gets from the task itself or from the sense of satisfaction in completing or even working on a task.  An intrinsically motivated person will work on a solution to a problem because the challenge of finding a solution is provides a sense of pleasure. 

Intrinsic motivation does not mean, however, that a person will not seek rewards. It just means that such external rewards are not enough to keep a person motivated. An intrinsically motivated student, for example, may want to get a good grade on an assignment, but if the assignment does not interest that student, the possibility of a good grade is not enough to maintain that student's motivation to put any effort into the project.

Enough for today ... I still have plenty to learn about all of this.  I'm glad I started early (before we had kids) and as much as I want ALL the answers NOW, there's no rush.  We're happy and blessed with all we need for today.

1 comment:

  1. Great post. I completely agree with everything you've written. I do like that definition of intrinsic motivation..


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