Charlotte Mason introduced a now famous motto,
“I am, I can, I ought, I will.”
Notice – every phrase starts with “I”.
Intrinsic motivation is found and sustained within the person.
Internal motivation does not need incentives from others.
When education is “an atmosphere, a discipline, a life,” Charlotte Mason points us to a higher form of education;
not just a learning process,
not related to classrooms, studies or methods,
stars chart, percentages, grades and results,
but an attitude of learning
assisted by a character devoted to education as a part of the individual’s life.
Charlotte Mason called upon parents and teachers to inspire their children.
These activities are “extrinsic motivated.” The reward comes from outside the child and it has to be provided by someone else, and has to be continually given for the child to stay motivated.
While it works, and for some children it has exceptional results and is enjoyable, I found that it does not bring about the character traits I am trying to instil in my children; namely to bring them to desire to do their best and meet the highest for themselves.
I read an excellent article Motivating Learning in Children,
adapted from “Early Childhood Motivation” from National Association of School Psychologists.
“Young children learn from everything they do. They are naturally curious; they want to explore and discover. If their explorations bring pleasure or success, they will want to learn more. During these early years, children form attitudes about learning that will last a lifetime. Children who receive the right sort of support and encouragement during these years will be creative, adventurous learners throughout their lives.”
“Since intrinsically motivated activity is more rewarding in and of itself, children learn more from this sort of activity, and they retain that learning better. Intrinsically motivated children are more involved in their own learning and development. In other words, a child is more likely to learn and retain information when he is intrinsically motivated – when he believes he is pleasing himself.”
Further on nasponline.org they describe behavioural characteristics that show a high level of motivation in a child.
(And beneath each point I have added how Charlotte Mason’s principles encourage a high level of motivation.)
- Persistence - A highly motivated child has the ability to stay with a task for a reasonably long time.
Ms. Mason advocated fairly short lessons. She encouraged children to complete their work perfectly, with excellence. She believed in discipline and developing good habits.
- Choice of challenge – Children who experience success in meeting one challenge will become motivated, welcoming another.
Ms. Mason’s education was built upon “Living Books”, exposing children to great ideas communicated by great minds, allowing the child to make relationships of these ideas. She wanted minds to nourished upon great ideas. She did not want the educators writing ‘twaddle’ and simplify books for children.
- Dependency on adults – Children with strong intrinsic motivation do not need an adult constantly watching and helping with activities.
Ms. Mason insisted that the educator moved out of the way. “Teaching must not be obtrusive. Avoid lectures. Don’t get between the child and great minds.” (Vol. 3, p. 66) She did not want teachers to explain too much, nor give grades, or rewards.
- Emotion – Children who are clearly motivated will have a positive display of emotion. They are satisfied with their work and show more enjoyment in the activity.
A Charlotte Mason education provided children with short, happy lessons, and afternoons free for leisure. Her education included great music and art, a love and appreciation for poetry and nature. She encouraged the development of good habits. Through narrations the child expressed his thoughts and ideas. She said schoolwork should, “convey to the child such initial ideas of interest in his various studies as to make the pursuit of knowledge on those lines and object in life and a delight to him.” (Vol. 2, p. 247)
We need to differentiate between motivation through incentives or by inspiration.
We prayerfully need to find out how we inspire our children to say, “I am, I can, I ought, I will”
There is so much more! Next post, I would like to discuss strategies to intrinsically motivate our children.
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