Hmmm… I haven’t read anything substantial about intrinsic or extrinsic motivation – and sorry, have been mainly offline since we broke up from school (which is unusual for me, but I accept it) but I’m just going to add a few thoughts which entered my brain while I was reading your very rich post (and trying to stay in it instead of leaping out through the hyperlinks) – quick, I must jot them down before they dissolve. The first thing I thought was that I’ve always been secretive or at least dismissive of my intrinsically motivated learning (until recently) in case people think it’s weird; why am I wasting my time? I obviously have too much time on my hands; I am not as busy as they are, etc. There was a substantial chunk of time when I was not doing this kind of intrinsically motivated learning – more than a decade for sure – and that was a sterile time for me, for sure. Some people just need it, and possibly can’t live happily without it – whether it’s learning, making, creating, playing – whatever. It’s energising. This is why they spend untold hours daily doing things nobody made them do but with no extrinsic benefit (that most people would acknowledge as being worth it). Some people say that this means the lines between work and play (or whatever) are blurred but how can you stop yourself doing what you want to do more than anything else?
The other thing I was thinking about is my school. We are a 9-12 selective boys’ school which means that we have some very motivated boys. There’s a good mix of intrinsic and extrinsic motivation for their learning (or performance) at school, and sometimes you can’t really separate it, eg you could say that many of them are brought up by parents who have instilled in them the all-encompassing chalice of learning success, and although that is extrinsic it has also become a part of them, so they believe in it themselves and study so hard, pushing themselves to the limit. Part of me plays devil’s advocate and tries to crumble their well known structure by introducing blogs for writing, thinking and discussing with no assessment, trying to entice them to write in the blog during their holidays when it’s clearly not contributing to their assessment – and this is a big deal to them. I’m not entirely sure of all my motivations for doing this but I feel like I want to help them break out of what is largely extrinsic and just do it for themselves. They are so bright but they are over-tutored and often run to the prescribed guides for things like literature, and I try to discourage them from doing this until they have allowed themselves the space to think and discuss ideas, and to gain confidence in their own ideas and instincts.
Anyway, this isn’t really going anywhere but your post has brought these thoughts to the surface, and for what it’s worth, I thought I’d share them. I hope to get back to catching up with the myriad of things you’ve been involved in, Maha. Your intellectual energy is inspiring.