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[Xmca-l] Re: Intrinsic motivation?

Cristina! My words were not directed against you. I was talking about very widespread practices, practices which have 'got under my skin' for years, including numerous formulations which arise from people trying to avoid the sin of dualism. In my reply to you I actually just focussed two paragraphs:

"About my attempts to overcome a dualistic language: I tend to prefer to
talk about a) single development (as suggest by Cole and Wertsh) instead of
individual and activity (or context or project) development; b) dimensions
of a phenomenon instead of levels of a phenomenon (micro-meso-macro); c)
motives instead of motivation.

"However it happens that I need to swing between ‘my’ new language and the
‘standard’ one, because I am living in a still Cartesian world and I need
to be understood by people (and even myself!) who are (am) made of this
Cartesian world."

The rest arose from questions posed by Greg.

In these two paragraphs you propose to avoid "dualistic language", by which you apparently mean that you do not wish to distinguish between the development of a person and the development of the activity/context/practice. What would this would mean in the case of a soldier who dies while the country he is fighting for wins the war? How has he developed as an individual? Or does the country die with him? Can you tell me what the difference is between levels and dimensions in a way which allows me to see why micro/meso/macro development are in some way invalid or unhelpful concepts? How do you plan to escape this "Cartesian" world? if you have trouble understanding yourself when you speak a language which you have evidently invented ('my' language). This difficulty is clearly not one of communication if you can't understand yourself.

I find it far better to understand the existing real words in the real language *dialectically*, rather than making up my own language. I recommend this approach. It has the benefit that at least I can understand myself even if no-one else can understand me. :)


*Andy Blunden*

Maria Cristina Migliore wrote:
could you please indicate what is the neologism which I would have
introduced and that has brought about such a disagreement from you?

I can think of 'strategy of production' which I intentionally introduced as
a new concept and discussed it in my dissertation. But I guess it is not
this one.


2014-08-06 8:43 GMT+02:00 Andrew Coppens <acoppens@ucsc.edu>:

Hi Greg and all,
I'm enjoying this thread and wish I could participate more closely.

I want to first respond to the point about "necessity" to labor. The bulk
of the research I've done here focuses on children's initiative in family
household chores. Arguably, the families with the most necessity for
children's help are middle-class dual-earner families with big homes that
require lots of upkeep but who have very little time and little help from
extended family members. Yet, these are the families in which children
contribute the least, and seldom with initiative. Rather, the little they
do is often assigned by parents, rewarded with praise and allowances, and
is often accomplished with lots of struggle. Without a doubt the best data
available on pattern for US middle-class families is here:

Also, in many Indigenous American communities play and work are inseparable
for young children (and they also go to school). Inge Bolin's 2006 book
documents this beautifully. Suzanne Gaskins has found that toddlers in a
Mayan community actually choose to be involved in work over play. This
makes sense to me. Why play with dolls when you can climb up on your own
developmental shoulders and help care for a real baby, sharing this
fundamental motive with expert caregivers in your community? To be sure,
these patterns are changing.

On to your question, Greg. Thanks for the correction on dialogic/dialectic;
I meant the latter. It's the creative tension between subject and
object-motive that's of interest here to me and to my ideas about
motivation and children's integration in mature family/community endeavors.
Let me use the caregiving example above. When children can collaborate with
adults and contribute to this endeavor, not in a child-specific proscribed
way but as an integrated novice, I think the "pull" or "motivation" to
contribute can be immense. And, because the object of the activity is
shared I think the subjectivity of the child expands along with it. When we
interviewed children in an Indigenous-heritage community of Guadalajara,
Mexico about what they personally did to help children insisted on the
"pronoun" we. We asked again about "your" contributions, and they corrected
with "we". This is written up briefly here: Coppens, A. D., Alcalá, L.,
Mejía-Arauz, R., & Rogoff, B. (2014). Children's initiative in family
household work in Mexico. *Human Development, 57*(2-3), 116-130. doi:

Just to make it interesting: I'm also thinking about "helping the family"
as a leading developmental activity in the sense that Elkonin has written
about the idea, with long-lasting motivational and developmental
affordances, for children from many Latino families (at least those who
have lots of experience pitching in collaboratively throughout childhood).
There's some evidence that "helping the family" can support academic
achievement in college for these youth.

Thanks everyone,

On Mon, Aug 4, 2014 at 9:16 PM, Greg Thompson <greg.a.thompson@gmail.com>


I think your point about the segregation of children and workers from
productive activities seems an important point to consider in the larger
context of why psychologists have been so taken by the
dichotomy. I don't know Danziger but I wonder if there might also be
something important that comes with separating children from productive
work. Obviously something is lost here. But it seems that something is
gained in the sense that children are, at least theoretically, freed from
necessity. I say "at least theoretically" because in most cases, it is
the exchange of one necessity for another: the necessity to labor
productively is exchanged for the necessity to get good grades. But there
is the theoretical potential for real, engaging play.

Also, I wonder if you could expand on this:
"This dialogic relation between self and object-motive is, I
think, what's intended by mutual constitution of the
in Leont'ev and others' formulations. This is where I've started to make
headway in thinking about motivation when a child contributes
collaboratively and with initiative toward a shared motive."

I'm not sure I follow whether or not you are pointing to a dialogical or
dialectical relationship, or whether that is a distinction that matters
you? (some people make too big a deal about this distinction and others
the terms internchangeably so I'm just wondering what you mean by it -
my two bits, "mutual constitution" sounds more dialectical to me).

But more importantly, I was wondering about the headway you are making in
thinking about motivation. It sounded like there is more here and I'd
to hear more.

p.s. I clipped the message so responses going forward won't have that
terribly long thread trailing behind (although those threads can be
for finding one's way back...).

On Mon, Aug 4, 2014 at 3:46 PM, Andrew Coppens <acoppens@ucsc.edu>
Hi everyone -
Thanks in advance for bearing with a long post from a usual listener
I'm also working on an alternative to the deeply entrenched
intrinsic/extrinsic dichotomy. I'm trying to explain a pervasive
pattern among Indigenous American children: the motivation to
autonomously (i.e., under their own initiative) and with responsibility
productive family and community endeavors, as integrated participants
meaningful collaborators in cultural activities. What are the
affordances of children having opportunities to "take part" in mature
endeavors? What is the draw of "bigger than me" activities?

First, I've found it instructive to consider parallels in historical
between the emergence of a motivational science and the segregation of
children from productive work in the middle-class West, both around the
turn of the 20th century. Kurt Danziger has written on this in *Naming
Mind. *I believe this cultural pattern (the segregation of children and
workers from productive activities and their motives) has become
of an unquestioned epistemological principle in canonical motivational
theory, and certainly in the intrinsic/extrinsic dichotomy.

>From a CHAT perspective, would the idea of an "extrinsic reward" even
water? Mainstream motivational research gives enough evidence to defend
idea that when "extrinsic rewards" undermine intrinsic motivation, what
might be happening is a transformation of the student's/child's
and the material reward is the pivot. That new activity (e.g., getting
grade) is not nearly as compelling as mastering material to do
productive and interesting. But "getting a grade" is
not extrinsic, to the activity of IPBSchooling. This motivational
transformation can happen in the reverse direction too (see WM Roth and
Larson), through a move from periphery to center a la Lave & Wenger.

So, not "extrinsic" but also not "intrinsic" in the conventional sense.
When self-in-activity is the unit of analysis for questions about
motivation, the intrinsic-as-internal metaphor seems very inadequate.
"Intrinsic" comes to encompass the entire activity, and the self in
relation to it. This dialogic relation between self and object-motive
is, I
think, what's intended by mutual constitution of the
in Leont'ev and others' formulations. This is where I've started to
headway in thinking about motivation when a child contributes
collaboratively and with initiative toward a shared motive.

There is definitely work on this topic. Ruth Paradise (2005) has a very
nice paper in Spanish also using the term "inherent" motivation, and
Barbara Rogoff has alluded to this idea in several places in the
Dan Hickey and others have written wonderfully about sociocultural
perspectives on achievement motivation theory, in ways that would
with thoughts on this thread so far. Dorothy Lee (1961) calls this
"autonomous motivation". There are many others, including key insights
Carol Dweck and Mark Lepper.

Thanks for listening and hopefully correcting,

Andrew D. Coppens

Gregory A. Thompson, Ph.D.
Assistant Professor
Department of Anthropology
883 Spencer W. Kimball Tower
Brigham Young University
Provo, UT 84602