The “Why?” Question and Motivation

Little children come to school filled with curiosity. They are endlessly asking “why?” questions in an attempt to find meaning and make connections. Somewhere around grade four they stop asking, “Why?” and begin to ask, “Will this be on the test?”

These two questions—more than any other observation that could be made—indicate the change in learning. The “Why?” question is an internally motivated curiosity question; the “Will this be on the test?” is a conformity question to the system.

It is essential for a civil society to follow ordinances and laws and conform to societal expectations. It is a necessary part of the culture. However, in order for a DEMOCRATIC society to flourish, the VALUES OF THE CULTURE must be where its citizens take responsibility because they WANT to be civil. This is in contrast to civility being imposed—as is the case in many authoritarian countries around the world.

Although societal conformity is necessary, having young people understand the levels of personal and social development assists in developing internal motivation. See the levels of social development. Understanding the differences between levels C and D in particular assists in understanding what is needed in a democratic society AND addresses the “Why?” question.

More ideas on this topic are available at