Recognizing and Nurturing Intrinsic Motivation: A Cautionary Tale Article Critique Recognizing and Nurturing Intrinsic Motivation: A Cautionary Tale This article related to the pre-teaching experiences of educators and the necessity for training in the identification of intrinsic motivation in the gifted learner. For far too many years, gifted learners were only thought to be the achievers in the group. Those students that were able to excel in whatever assignment was given or any task at hand were generally those identified as the gifted and talented in the group. This paper implies that this belief continues to be widely held. Those in teacher training are required to perform a given number of hours of observation in a mentor teacher's classroom prior to the completion of their program.
Without adequate training in the identification of internally motivated behavior, this writer concludes that many of the teacher-identified gifted students would be missed. From the author's perspective, most of the pre-teachers doing the observations in this paper identified the teacher-pleasers as the intrinsically motivated in the classroom. Usually this type of student is most responsive to extrinsic motivation, according to the author. Future teachers need to be trained to recognize the nonconformist gifted learner as well. Too often these students are allowed to fall between the cracks because their true intrinsic motivation is never identified. They are usually labeled early on as a troublemaker or as rowdy. Failure to identify those students that only faintly demonstrate characteristics of giftedness can lead to continual classroom disruptions and the loss of potential for the student. I could not agree more strongly with the author. Having taught several vocational science classes in local high schools, I have met many students that are indeed gifted but are nonconforming – holding little regard for those that do not seek to understand them on a personal level. There are many strong young minds lost every year because teachers and other professionals are not adequately trained or equipped to identify and differentiate curriculum for these underground students. According to the author characteristics of the intrinsically motivated student include: students that accept challenges willingly, those that show persistence in difficult tasks, those who exhibit curiosity, remain task-committed, and reflect satisfaction in their own efforts despite the opinion of others. The author sees this motivation as fueled by students' psychoacademic needs to control their own decisions. These students, almost by their very nature, do not exhibit the teacher pleasing characteristics so often identified with the gifted student. In fact, the author sites research indicating that extrinsic rewards (teacher pleasing) can be devastating to the intrinsically motivated student. This system lessens the ability of the child to learn and work for the satisfaction therein. The author feels these students can lose their perceived power over their decisions much more quickly than the average learner can. In the paper it is described as a fragile commodity, lost more easily than gained. The author concludes by reinforcing the need for teachers to be trained early on in the recognition and nurture of intrinsic motivation in order to foster self-esteem and a safe environment in which the gifted learner can prosper.