Few educators understand that offering students the right motivation is essential to a proper education. Many hold variants of the Platonist view that knowledge is an end in itself, desirable for its own sake. On this view, no motivation is necessary. Others regard education as a means to some subjectively desirable goal. On this view, motivation involves pandering to the child's short-range values, from gold stars to pizza to cash.
Properly understood, education consists of training in the knowledge and skills necessary for one to function as a mature, informed, rational adult, i.e., to efficaciously pursue a fulfilled human life. Knowledge is practical and selfish--and to fully grasp any item of knowledge is to understand its power to help one achieve values in the real world. Proper motivation consists, first and foremost, of demonstrating the selfish value of knowledge.
In this lecture, Ms. VanDamme discusses this theory of motivation and how to apply it in the classroom. She addresses mistakes commonly made in the implementation of this theory and explains how to avoid them. She describes derivative forms of motivation and explains their proper place in the classroom. And she illustrates the right approach to motivation with stories from her own school.
This lecture was recorded at the 2006 Objectivist Summer Conference in Boston, MA.