Thanks to a recent Lifehack.org post, I just read an Alfie Kohn article (written in 1993) about how rewards get in the way of intrinsic motivation. Some of you have mentioned Kohn's name in the comments before, but I've never followed up on his work till now. Fascinating stuff — I intend to read more.
We've discussed this issue before (in the comments of the March 2007 post on how to use a star chart) but it's still nagging me. While I agree with Kohn in theory, I'm hesitant to generalize because I see my own children react differently to rewards.
One seems to focus almost exclusively on the prize, doing whatever must be done to get it while the underlying lesson often goes unheeded (Kohn's case in point). The other kid seems only marginally aware of rewards and is delighted to receive one every now and then, but, for the most part, seems to "get" the satisfaction of a job well done.
I say this without judgement — they're simply different kids — but their differences must be treated accordingly.
How does one spark a kid's sense of internal motivation?