The Psychology Behind Education

What is intrinsic motivation? How does it shape the way we think and live? How does it influence education? According to, motivation as defined by psychology is the basis for all things education. Of course we can lose our motivations too, which essentially would break the foundation for inspiration – making things such as learned helplessness (the automatic inclination you learn towards failures) and Senioritis (as discussed in this past post) very much alive in our schools today.

Psychology should be regarded in all fields, including education, to better understand everyone. (photo by arenamontanus)

Psychology should be regarded in all fields, including education, to better understand everyone. (photo by arenamontanus)

Educational Psychologists study how people learn, through various studies such as case studies and longitudinal studies to see different outcomes and better understand what makes a person thrive and fail. According to brainmass, people lose motivation as the time span is larger. The article claims that motivation, in a sense, is more of a feeling than a neurological impulse. Often, in a long term setting when motivation is lost, the subjects at hand gain depression and guilt due to their inability to remain focused and driven. Perhaps a lack of motivation in the long term is a sign of a learning disability that is present but is undetected.

However, motivation is not simply lost through long term scenarios. In short term, people can lose motivation for a number of external reasons including illnesses. It is not necessarily the person’s fault that they have these distractions guiding them away from their intrinsic motivations, however, the distractions are still present and thus the person is unable to thrive as other students are as a result.

In the same article, brainmass discusses perfectionism crippling motivation. Perfectionism is a great mask of motivation killer – because you always believe you are working towards a goal. Instead, motivation is killed because perfection can not be reached, and leaves the person feeling depressed or guilty or perhaps even angry. Eventually, that perfectionist can not stand being imperfect, so they develop procrastination – a way around their imperfection. If nothing is being completed, one can not feel guilty that the subject is not perfect.

All of these things can stop students from their true potentials. In the end, the motivation has to come from within. One of the tweets that are on my dashboard right now is from a fitness instructor that I have discussed in a past post, Cassey Ho of Blogilates. The tweet says, “Dreams don’t work unless you do.” Now, with all being said, it is going to be harder for one student to remain motivated than another student. But one must remember that the reward would be much greater, it would simply just require more effort. The feelings of failure that a student may have simply means that progress is being made. In fact, one of the best ways to learn is through failure.

Trying again and again until they reach their goal is something that your student or child may need help with. Encouraging them and allowing them to discover their own paths to success are key. Remember that education does not simply stop at the school doors – it continues at home.

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