Developing motivation

Keynote: Student Motivation


The intrinsic or autonomous motivation of students is probably the most important element in building 21st century skills and sustainably raising student learning and outcomes.  A shift to this form of motivation is essential if we want to properly prepare young people for the future that is emerging.

Far too many students around the world are trapped in a vicious cycle of poor performance and demotivation that leads only to more bad marks and further disengagement from school.
— Andreas Schleicher, OECD’s Directorate for Education and Skills

A focus on intrinsic motivation will lead to fewer discipline problems, to better work being done and improved psychological and physical wellbeing for both students and staff. We also unknowingly, both as teachers and leaders, tend to magnify initial conditions for students and staff, those who start engaged become more engaged, those who start disengaged become more disengaged.  A shift to supporting intrinsic motivation resolves this.

Not all, but many teachers feel stressed and anxious, time-poor, overwhelmed and not as well-supported as they would like.  But it does not need to be that way and the cultivation of intrinsic motivation in both students and staff is one of the key ways to change it.

A key message is that rewards and punishments should have no place in the education of our children, it is intrinsic, healthy motivation that will drive education's transformation and long-term success.

Keynote main points

In this Keynote Presentation John makes 5 key points:

  • We are at a historic moment where the need to shift from controlled motivation that suits algorithmic work to autonomous motivation that suits heuristic work, the work of the future, is paramount
  • Things are complicated by the fact that we have two mind states, a blue zone where we are at our best and a red zone where we are not, and we switch between them
  • This combination – of motivations and mind state - means there is a wide range of motivations, demotivations and unmotivations amongst both staff and students
  • To raise student motivation, we must raise staff motivation at the same time – we all grow together
  • There is a relationship between teacher and student – encounter – that builds intrinsic motivation in both, it is this that makes outstanding teachers so effective and this is a learnable skill




  • “Thanks for your presentation yesterday – thoroughly enjoyable and it has provoked a lot of discussion already.”
    Andrew McGregor — Associate Principal
    Westbourne Grammar School
  • “The overall feedback has been very positive. Most have said that they enjoyed, valued, and understood your message.”
    Peter Houlahan — Principal
    Marist-Sion College
  • “Brilliant!”
    John Picinali — Deputy Principal, Pastoral Care, Marist-Sion College
  • “You ended with a very clear and simple summary which everyone seemed to understand and accept. Congratulations.”
    Peter Houlahan — Principal
    Marist-Sion College

To kickstart your school’s focus on student motivation, contact John and book a 60 minute Keynote Presentation.

Case Study Derived from Adaptive and Maladaptive work-related motivation among teachers - Collie and Martin

Case Study Derived from Adaptive and Maladaptive work-related motivation among teachers - Collie and Martin