Extrinsic vs Intrinsic Rewards

We often come across the debate of Extrinsic versus Intrinsic rewards. An Intrinsic Reward is the feeling inside of pleasure for a job well done. An Extrinsic Reward is external – a pat on the back, being told well done, a grade or a physical prize. As an adult Extrinsic Rewards include a salary, a house, a job title and a career.

The aim of every school is to get pupils to an Intrinsic Reward place – ideally for all subjects and topics but realistically for a limited number of topics and subjects. Did you love every subject at school? No. But it did matter that you fell in love with one or more subjects that then formed the basis of your education? Yes.

To move students from uninterested to interested to intrinsically motivated you need a tool – and there is only one tool available. External Rewards. From a congratulatory word, to a sticker to show off, a praise postcard to show parents, a certificate to frame or even a physical prize. What rewards are best is a matter for much debate – the fact that rewards are important is not.

Without External rewards what are you going to do with those not intrinsically motivated? Just ignore them until they see they light? It it impossible for a school to have an Intrinsic only system without leaving the majority behind.

A well thought through reward system that effectively motivates children and drives them to value education is incredibly important.

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