What Motivates Teachers

There are many motivational theories that help us evaluate our learners’ driving force or forces. We try to figure out whether they have intrinsic or extrinsic motivation, what goals they are eager to achieve and what their preferences are likely to be.

Today I’d like to consider what motivates teachers. We are often seen as ‘public-spirited altruists’, aren’t we? Many people choose this profession because they are focused on meeting the needs of others. I know that some students start giving tutorials for their peers as they can already explain certain things and their friends need their support. That doesn’t involve any financial rewards or acquiring material wealth. Don’t you know some teachers who stay after lessons to talk to their learners and their parents because they just need some individual guidance?  It seems this is a typical example of unselfish acts.

Well, do you think it’s wrong to seek for some financial benefits or keep in mind factors like security, status or autonomy? I believe we may well be motivated by getting pleasure from what we are doing, building up our own sense of self-esteem and develop professional skills. This may entail experimenting, even when our learners don’t see the purpose of doing some strange things like singing or meditating, doing research and interviewing our students taking their precious time. You might do that for personal benefit without considering the needs of others. Will you call it anti-social behaviour?

Do teachers get satisfaction by helping people to learn or by harnessing the forces of self-interest?