2. Chapter 2 & 3
Correct Use of Rewards
“If you give children an extrinsic motivator for something they are intrinsically motivated to do you tend to deprive them of the intrinsic motivation. On the other hand, there are times when material rewards can be valuable”
Educators can proffer rewards too frequently, decreasing the value of this strategy through excessive use. During the first few years of my experience as a teacher I learned many new strategies in order to retain and reignite motivation but I discovered the overuse of one particular goal-orientated approach, for two learners, instead achieved the opposite result.
This reminded me of my opinion of rewards as I became aware that the ultimate goal of all extrinsic motivators is to build intrinsic motivation based upon the individual's perception of any strategies.
“It would nonetheless seem to be true that the concept of extrinsic value, in all its varieties, is to be understood in terms of the concept of intrinsic value”
If a pupil shows signs of intrinsic motivation, extrinsic awards have little effect unless they are given as milestones of achievement from a source recognised as an authority (such as the London College of Music). The teacher must consider what value any extrinsic reward will have on the intrinsic motivational force.
A young and gifted learner received a ‘in house’ certificate for course completion. The individual had already proven that she had a high intrinsic motivation and this reward, as it was given to everyone who attended the course, she considered that it devalued individual achievement in favour of group learning. Reflecting on this, I withdrew the rewards for her, and in time she attended the future events.
Intrinsic Desire in Subadult Individuals
The intrinsic desire to succeed is considered to be innate in the child but many children have the intrinsic motivation slowly extinguished due to the excessive rewards given to them by teachers and parents trying to encourage with the best intentions.
“Suzuki does not believe the correct way is to force the child to practise everyday. The highest degree of ingenuity and creative imagination must be brought into play to create the most favourable environment for the child.”
The most favourable and motivational environment for preschool children usually includes toys. Through reflection of experiential practice I have discovered that if a child, between the ages of four and six, is losing interest it is most likely to be insufficient utilisation of applied imagination, at this age life is full of characters and stories.
The Alfred system Music for Little Mozart’s using Mozart Mouse and Beethoven Bear and their companions is specifically targeted to instigate and retain a multifunctional approach including games, soft toys, easily played music, bright colours and colouring books in order to encourage the child's progression with characters enjoying the journey into music and therefore promoting further sales of later books to the learner and their sponsor.
I have noticed throughout my career that certain learners of grade one and two standard will request to take their favourite teddy in the examination room, sometimes for comfort, and sometimes because teddy has experienced every lesson and the child may believe will help them to succeed at this test of their skill and ability.
The joint extrinsic and intrinsic motivational force is enjoying the story as they follow it with toys, by using games and stories the pure enjoyment in learning at this young age is guaranteed.
“Learners hardly realise they are learning because they have so much fun”
An adolescent pupil has greater pressure applied from peers and family therefore the music teacher needs to apply greater creativity in the reward system initiated. Adult learners have a more complex motivational structure which may involve mental health factors including personal and family based expectations and considerations.
Chris Caton-Greasley LLCM(TD) MA (Mus)(Open)
Ethnographic Musicologist, Teacher, Researcher