Teleological Factors in Education: a Proposal

The intrinsic motivation factor in education is where each child’s individual telos, intention, purpose, or goal, intersects with the objectives of a lesson, the hopes of the teacher, the goals of administration, the standards of the state, and the ideals of society. How much do we understand about how student motivation intersects with learning? How would our field look through this lens? Would a study of purposes and cross-purposes of stakeholders in education, based on historical or contemporary documents or ethnographic observations, interviews, case studies, or narratives, shed light on economy of effort in educational reform?

Cross-purposes of stakeholders in education is an issue that seems to me to be at the heart of the struggle for all involved. In schools I see the most success when everyone’s purposes are aligned and the most discomfort when they are not. Experiencing moments of synchrony may be satisfying enough to keep teachers, students, administrators, governments, and society engaged through moments of conflict. Meanwhile, societal problems such as the current teacher shortages may come as a result of teleological dissonance. The issue merits analysis.

A literature review of the topic of intrinsic motivation would help to define the terms of the study, describing and classifying all types of motivation among students & teachers as well as all types of guiding philosophies of teachers and educational paradigms.

In any given educational situation the phenomenon of student motivation might be described qualitatively, resulting in specific insights, or quantitatively, leading to generalizations that may be more widely useful. The range of situations studied may include those sufficiently documented in history, such as the pedagogical efforts of Walter Smith or Victor Lowenfeld. It may otherwise consider the varying experiences of a single pupil across a chosen timeframe explored ethnographically, or the sociological implications of motivation in school among specific populations.