Internal vs. External Motivation

Practitioners of the Raise Responsibility System (Roman Numeral III of the Discipline Without Stress Teaching Model) understand that the only part of the system students need to understand are the four levels of personal and social development. Lower levels A and B are unacceptable, whereas the higher levels C and D are both acceptable. Also, the significant difference between level C and level D is in the motivation. The motivation for level C is “EXternal,” whereas the motivation for level D is “INternal.”

Two examples I use in my seminars are (1) asking a teenager at home to make the bed before going to school and (2) asking a student in a classroom to pick up the trash.

In the home example, if the teenager knew the standard orexpectation of the home and would have made the bed without being asked, the behavior would be the same as when being asked. In each situation, the bed would have been made before going to school.

Similarly in the school example, if the student would have taken the initiative to pick up the trash—without first being asked—the trash would have been picked up. The behavior would have been the same.

The difference between these two acceptable levels is in the motivation—not necessarily in the behavior. This is important to remember because the levels are most effectively used when reference is made to the difference between levels C and D, rather than between these two acceptable levels and the lower two unacceptable levels.

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