There are many types of motivation, but they fall under one of two categories, extrinsic or intrinsic.
Extrinsic motivation is one that involves rewards, like money and praise.
Every paid job, promotion, and social recognition is an example of extrinsic motivation.
Intrinsic motivation is one that comes from within a person, like personal gratification.
I have an example of intrinsic motivation I can share:
I once went to my local public library to borrow some materials and accidentally met Kevin, a ten-year-old boy who couldn’t read. He was there with his mom and dad, looking for a tutor.
Kevin had somehow gotten up to the fourth grade without learning to read a word. I don’t know how that can happen, but it had.
I don’t know what made feel determined to help him. Maybe it was that his parents couldn’t communicate in English and felt helpless. I volunteered to meet with Kevin twice a week for ten weeks.
The challenge was finding materials that would be both appropriate for teaching reading and interesting to a ten-year-old boy. I chatted with Kevin and found out he loved action figures.
I looked into Penguin Readers, and although I couldn’t find the kind of action-figure related stories he liked among them, they gave me an idea of what to do.
I ended up choosing texts he would find fascinating and adapting those texts by replacing multi-syllable words by one- and two-syllable words.
After nine weeks, Kevin learned to read. He was so encouraged by his own ability that he checked out his maximum allowed number of books to read at home that weekend. He recounted the stories he had read at home on our final week together and found more books at the library to borrow.
Every part of this experience was extremely rewarding to me, from accepting the challenge to teach a boy to read… to creating materials tailored to his needs… to tutoring a good kid with a great attitude… to making progress session after session… to listening to Kevin read an entire passage without difficulty for the first time… to seeing him and his parents so happy… and to watching Kevin check out books with enthusiasm.
The personal gratification I got from this first tutoring experience was what motivated me to sign up as a volunteer tutor for kids who needed help at the library.
What motivates you?