No mantra for motivation

Aditi Mathur and Ratnesh Mathur

“I like logic and reasoning, but I prefer a gun.”

(From the movie – The Godfather)

boy-with-balloons So much for external motivation! And that is precisely how it works. And as most teachers and parents will vouch, soon the gun runs out of effective bullets.

Please answer a few questions:

  1. Will you get on a train if you don’t know where it is going? Will you do something if you don’t know why you should do it?
  2. Will you do something totally uninteresting? Something which looks, sounds, feels boring, especially if it does not appear essential?
  3. How would you like to do something when you do not have any say in how you do it, when you do it, how much time you can take to do it and what to do?
  4. How would you like to do something when you are not going to feel good about it at the end or when nobody really cares to appreciate your efforts (no matter what results)?

Since ‘No’ is an answer to almost all of the above questions, is it surprising that external motivation rarely works? Yet we still believe that motivation is something that we can do to children! If the horse isn’t thirsty what is the point of pushing it to the water hole?

There is only one kind of motivation that will yield results and that is the one initiated by the SELF. Let’s accept we cannot motivate others and that internal motivation is the only motivation that can work. Hence, the best way to motivate children is by not trying to motivate them. What we can and need to do is provide an environment that will make them feel motivated from the inside.

The authors run an open unschool called Aarohi and invite all readers to visit and see how open learning can be an amazing way to work with children. They also conduct training retreats and online training for teachers and parents. Visit

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