A psychologist demonstrates what he’s learned about intrinsic motivation and transformative learning.
During Wlodkowski’s (co-author: Enhancing Adult Motivation to Learn, 2017, etc.) long career in academia, he’s had an interest in intrinsic motivation, which he defines as “when people act or respond for the satisfaction inherent in the behavior itself.” He uses stories from his own life to show how this concept influenced his own career. For example, his Aunt Ann lived with his family when he was young; she was the only one of her 11 siblings to leave home, and he found that he wanted to live a similarly interesting life. He says that her example inspired him to take a satisfying professional risk by accepting a position as human relations specialist for the Milwaukee Public Schools during their effort to desegregate. The author also stresses the importance of professional mentorship; he tells of how he invited his ancient history professor out for coffee one day, which led to a lifelong friendship. Throughout the book, he refers to their relationship and how it influenced his later career decisions. These frequent references clearly demonstrate the profound effect that the elder man had on his life, and successfully show the value of having a mentor. In the 1980s, his mother’s death made him realize that few formal learning opportunities were available to working women as they aged. This drove him to study what motivated adult learners; he went on to speak at adult education conferences and publish books on the topic. The bulk of this book consists of the author’s life story, told in chronological order, which flows well with the various lessons throughout. Because the author includes many personal anecdotes from his years in Detroit and the broader Midwest, this book will especially appeal to readers with connections to these areas. However, Wlodkowski’s expertise in such a specialized field may appeal to a somewhat narrower audience. At the end, he includes methods for teaching intrinsic motivation and transformation theory to adult learners via memoir writing and storytelling.
This book will primarily interest adult educators, but it’s also a worthwhile read for anyone interested in education history.