Motivation is the key to everything. I have been consistently amazed at what you can convince a person to do or believe if you can just find the golden egg of motivation. I have dealt with children and adults with learning disabilities, low self-esteem, low impulse control, emotional volatility, and and a general sense of apathy and the key to reaching their learning goals has always been motivation.
It is like a puzzle. We all get out of bed for one reason or another, and we all push through discomfort at varying degrees and for different reasons. We love what we love and we hate what we hate, but we all have something that will motivate us to achieve amazing things if we really put our hearts into it.
Maslow said a person can't move on to learn and achieve secondary needs or desires until his or her primary needs are met. In the classroom, how can we attend to a person's sense of safety and psychological well-being before expecting him or her to make room for bigger, more profound information? That is the trick. This article on basic techniques looks at that exact issue and suggests techniques for inspiring intrinsic motivation in adult learners.
This is a particular feat since it is well established that a large portion of adult learners take on the challenge to learn for externally motivating reasons -- job advancement, skills updating, mandatory work requirement, faced with a problem-centred life situation. How, then, do we cater to those basic needs in order to draw out the intrinsic motivation to learn for the sake of learning, for the immense pleasure of accomplishment, for the joy of achievement? Again, this is the trick.
I enjoyed the suggestions that seem to draw the learner's sense of self into the lesson -- encouraging personal stories, emphasizing practical knowledge, acknowledging feelings and ideas based in life experience. Essentially the article encourages us to engage students by welcoming them to become part of the learning process and personally investing in the material.