Intrinsic Motivation and #KannangaraReport

The Kanngangara Report has several passages highlighting the importance of Intrinsic Motivation (even if they don’t use that term):

First, they highlight the importance of application of knowledge as being the aim of the learner (and of whatever teacher there was, because formal teachers were few and far between)

In the earliest kind of teaching before there were schools, the aim of the learner and of whatever teacher there was, was the formation of abilities to apply knowledge. The child, for instance, learned not only how to use but also actually to use the bow and the arrow and such other implements as existed in those days.

They further emphasise its importance thus:

If we now ask how application of knowledge is to be taught, the answer is that the pupil should desire to apply knowledge. In the language of the teacher he must be ‘‘interested’’ in the subject.

And insist that a teacher can only instil a genuine interest in a student if they themselves are enthusiastic (i.e. intrinsically motivated) on the topic

Methods of implanting desires will be dealt with later; but it may be at once started that a teacher who has no interest in his subject, better still who is not enthusiastic in regard to his subject, should not undertake to teach it, since it is very unlikely that he would succeed in implanting a genuine interest in the pupil. It is much more probable that he will produce in the pupil a lasting dislike for the subject. Failure to teach a subject cannot be excused on the ground that the pupil is not interested in it. It is the teacher’s duty to arouse interest. Granted that the teacher has a genuine interest in his subject and is able to apply his knowledge, he is now in a position to set about his work in a systematic manner.

They describe the effect of this enthusiasm as infectious, provided there is admiration and respect. They also recognize that it is not only the enthusiasm of the teacher that is infectious, it is also the enthusiasm of the fellow learners:

The learner catches blindly by this method the enthusiasms of his teacher and of his friends and those whom he admires and respects.

And go on to explain why the enthusiasm alone is not sufficient. (As Schools 4.0, we too believe in appealing to the intelligence of the child):

It is essential that a good teacher should possess this quality which enables him to arouse enthusiasm blindly, but a good teacher cannot stop at that. The pupil must be led to find for himself sufficient rational grounds for his enthusiasms so that when he leaves his teacher, he has an undying enthusiasm which is his own. This the teacher can accomplish only by the use of intelligent or conscious methods. He must appeal to the intelligence of the child. It is said that a boy who did not want to learn Latin acquired a strong desire for it when it was pointed out to him that he could not become a doctor without Latin. This is an example of an indirect interest but it would have been much better if the knowledge of Latin itself aroused in him an interest in the subject.

They describe the acquisition and fixing of knowledge as pre-requisites for application (but not necessarily in a set order or with a conscious distinction:

Before the learner can apply knowledge, he must acquire it and fix it. Logically these three phases are essential but they need not take place in any set order, nor need the learner be conscious of them as such. To be able to use even the bow and arrow he must know how to use it and then fix that knowledge in his mind.

And emphasise that acquisition is best done through intrinsic motivation:

The acquisition of knowledge is best done by one’s own efforts. What we have striven to acquire abides with us much more permanently. If intelligently learnt, we know its limitations and possibilities provided our aim was right, namely, that knowledge must end in application. Hence the present-day emphasis on self-activity and self-expression.

They discuss methods of acquiring knowledge (unaided - the Agassi method (although even there, Agassi provided a fish), and aided by means of books (with caveats that are elaborated elsewhere), example and illustration by a teacher, and discussion with fellow learners). On the role of the teacher, they warn:

The danger attached to this method is that of giving too much help to the pupil and thus wrongly reducing his self-activity. The teacher who explains too much, whose work ends at “lecturing”, is just as much a menace as the text-book which is wrongly used.

They then describe fixation (repeated mechanically or understood intelligently) as a step towards application, where they highlight the necessity of real-world application, with formal applications being important only as a form of practice towards it. (As Schools 4.0, we see the desire to solve meaningful problems in their lives as a key source of intrinsic motivation to learn)

The ultimate application must be a real application related to the life and environment of the pupil. Naturally knowledge acquired by him must be applied to the things that are of importance to him since those are the only applications that would be real to him. Instead of looking for real applications like these, teachers have been content to use formal applications which have the semblance of real applications, put are not true applications as they do not touch the real life of the pupil or his interest in the application of knowledge in relation to his environment. These remarks must not be understood as meaning that formal applications have no place in school. They are invaluable as preparation for real applications. It is very helpful for the pupils to do many “paper and pencil” exercise in the use of money, provided he does not stop at that. Doing formal problems in Geography may be a very useful way of preparing the pupil for tackling real problems in Geography.

In conclusion, they acknowledge that indirect methods (i.e. extrinsic motivations) have a role, but only as a stepping stone to arouse a genuine interest:

Indirect methods of arousing interest have constantly to be used by the teacher. Marks, honour boards, prizes have all been used for this purpose. They, like formal application exercises, have their place and use, but a school which never succeeds in arousing a genuine interest in the work of the school is like a school where abilities are acquired which are never really used.