An Experiment in Motivation

E. George Payne
1917 The Elementary school journal  
The motive which we have come to regard as so essential in the training of children becomes merely the starting-point of their education and the basis of the school study. The problem of school teaching is to acquaint the child with the life of which he is a part, to develop right concepts of it, and to establish right attitudes, habits, and ideals toward it. To this most important aim the school curriculum should be subordinated. It is the purpose of this article to indicate by an experiment
more » ... e possibility of using the life of the community as a means of motivating the school work, and to give the child a knowledge of the community life of which he is to become a part, as well as an understanding of the forces underlying its organization and operation. This discussion will attempt to explain, not only how the powers of children may be developed, but how they may be developed with particular reference to the function they are later to serve in the larger social life. During the year 191i0-I at my request I was provided with a group of about a score of boys, ranging in age from ten to fourteen years. These boys were selected from the Wyman School of St. Louis, a regular grade school serving as the observation school of the Harris Teachers College. The selection of the group was left to the principal of the school, who chose, for the most part, those indifferently interested in their school work, with the hope of arousing in them an interest in their regular school work. He also recognized that a failure to interest them would make no serious difference, as they were then uninterested. A description of this experiment, then, will be suggestive of ways of motivating the school work and giving pupils knowledge of vital importance to their later life. The interest is not in the outcome of the experiment, but in the method of carrying it on 727
doi:10.1086/454582 fatcat:fdsofdt5b5dmjgepxgccphfhke