thoughts on extrinsic motivation

OK – I am all for fostering intrinsic motivation in students.  In fact I think its what teachers (and parents) should be striving to do with most tasks.

But sometimes extrinsic motivation Just Works.

Case in point: my kids and tidying their rooms.

Every weekend for the past few years its been the same *fight* –

Me: “Tidy your rooms: its your job. We need to keep out house clean so we can live a safe and healthy life. It helps us to look after out things when we put them away”.

Kid’s hear and think: “tidy up …  … boring … blather blather …. she’ll cave in if we whine and do it for us”.

…and believe me when I say that I’ve tried being strong and not caving.  I’ve even followed through and given away some of their toys (although not many – I had to pay for the things!)

I’ve tried bribery (which is extrinsic in nature, I know) but its not a long term solution.

But now I’ve instigated The Rewards Chart.

The goals have been set (both short term and long term) as have the rewards (a trip to the museum and some money to spend in the shop).

This weekend, the kids (6 and 4) are falling over themselves to stick a sticker on the chart.  Tidying up has been done in record time AND there was no fighting (another goal).

Miss K (6) is right into it because they do it at school.  Mr H (4) is less into it at present … but that’s OK as I think he’s starting to get the ability to think a little further into the future. … although is also smart enough to recognise that if he doesn’t tidy up either Miss K will miss out on going or he’ll get to go anyway as I can’t leave him home.  Hence the carrot of some coin to *buy* something at the museum shop which is one of his favourite places in the known universe.

So I can see that there is a place for extrinsic motivation in the classroom as well: term rewards, “Gotchas” etc for things that don’t have a lot of inherent or apparent intrinsic motivation.


Damn thing was obviously on a suicide mission (WARNING – GRAPHIC MAY OFFEND)

Warning – the graphic (below) may offend some viewers. Actually it offends me but I’m also into realism and I wanted to make sure it was really dead this time and not just injured.




Well, it seems the silly nermal was on a suicide mission when I first met it.  Obviously she had gone a bit do-lally and was not well when I first met her (for its now painfully evident that the possum was indeed a she …. and a whole lot bigger than I remember but I guess that’s the difference in observing an animal trying to make itself look small, and an animal which is laid out like a pancake).




You guessed it – on my way back home this morning*, I observed the wee thing lying tits-up near the same storm water drain I found it hovering near yesterday.  It doesn’t appear to have been hit by a car and really does look like it fell off its perch (in the tree above ).




Goodbye little terrorist possum.






* on a side note, I was driving home from the Drs – Miss K finally has her arm out of the cast – 2 weeks early – and so now I’m paranoid about her re-breaking it.

Possum Unmagic

I have learned something important today:

never ever assume a stunned possum is … well … stunned.

As Mr 4 and I were driving back from  dropping Miss K at school  this morning, I spied a small, cute, furry, *baby* possum on the side of the (very busy) road.

It looked stunned.  It looked bewildered. It looked lost. It looked like it couldn’t find its Mum to get it out of this mess ….. It looked at *me*.

So I pulled over and attempted to shoo the thing up back onto the footpath and up a tree.

It sat and looked at me in it’s stunned, bewildered, “Will you be my Mummy?” way.

It did not move.

So I got closer … part of me thinking that I should search the car for a towel or something with which to shoo it … but it was so stunned it let me pat it.

So I’m there at the side of a busy road, patting a baby possum while my 4 year old son watched from the safety of the car.

The possum still didn’t move.

So in one of the stupidest moves ever, I decided I could probably pick it up and put it into the tree. (Particularly stupid given my history of animal handling).

Suddenly that cute little baby possum Woke Up and said:


and did some sort of weird ninja thing where it leapt at my jugular, but only managed to tag my hand with its teeth and claws.

It was at this point that a home owner came to my rescue.

With flippers.

(WTF? you say … that’s also what I said to myself at the time)

She then attempted to shoo the cute little baby terrorist possum off the road.

Again, it leaped with surprising force towards her jugular with a screamed “I kill you”, and clawed its way down her arms.

Luckily it really did wake up this time and scooted up the nearest tree.

…so a after tetanus shot (and Diphtheria and Whooping cough for good measure) and a script for some antibiotics I bring you this post and the message not to believe the beguiling cuteness of Australian marsupials (koalas drinking bottled water anyone?).

They will kill you if given the chance.

Even the babies.

Beware – there are llamas.

(OK – that last one is a teensy bit random, even for me.  Python fans will understand).

From personal drama to community disaster

The beautiful islands on my doorstep are covered in oil:


Sixty kilometres of coastline is covered in the slick, which came from the Pacific Adventurer after it was damaged earlier this week in rough seas whipped up by cyclone Hamish.

Up to 100,000 litres of heavy fuel oil leaked into the ocean from the cargo ship.

Moreton Island – about 40 kilometres off Brisbane – is the worst affected.

About 350 workers are trying to remove the sludge but it is a slow process and most of it has to be done by hand to avoid further damage to the environment.

I grew up camping and fishing on these islands. They are as much a part of my “home” as my house is.

Inappropriate Funeral Conversation #1

When you hold a funeral in a large rocky paddock which is apparently the local cemetery, you get to fit a lot of people in.
People I don’t really know because we live 3 hours drive away from the district.

So when you are introduced to a woman who looks to be at least 110 years old and are told that she was your husband’s primary school teacher, you are not quite expecting her to:
a) launch into a detailed account of everything that’s happened in her life since she last taught your husband (boring – but people do tend to get attacks of the brain farts when talking to the recently bereaved – so I can forgive this), or
b) start mouthing off about the upcoming State election and talk about “that bloody Bligh woman in Brisbane” as if we *must* share the same political views because she taught my husband to read in 1972!, or
c) generally bitch and moan about how rude city people are … ummm *Hello* lady but where did I just tell you that we lived???

Actually there is often talk of “country people” being better than “city people” whenever I visit. … and its not directed at me personally – at least I think its not. It just seems to come up in conversation a lot. I don’t really see that much difference myself. Wonder what it is that they seem to notice and get offended about when they see “city people”????

Facebook in reality

Like a lot of people, I have a Facebook account. Under a made-up name ’cause putting my real name on there would just be too weird.
Mostly, its OK. I like the quick posts on how my friends are doing and its not like an e-mail where I feel obligated to reply.

But sometimes its just plain weird. Strange friend requests from people I’ve never met IRL or on the interwebz. ..and its hopeless for blogging.

But sometimes, its good for getting little gems like this:

Ahh the irony…..

In other news, Something Really Good happened yesterday … with all the Crap going on in my life at the moment I was starting to wonder whether studying a Dip Ed was meant to be… until I did my on-line tute last night and got a LOT of positive feedback including this from the tutor: “Well it seems Amanda blew us all out of the water.”

A pretty good end to a day that had me crying at school drop off when I saw a friend. Crying at home when the ER doctor Miss K saw on Friday *neglected* to… give me a referral or the x-rays which he knew I would need to see the specialist he suggested and then having the hospital basically say that *I* should have known to ask for the documents (stupid fuckknuckles). Arguing with my grief stricken hubby (we’ve since made up).

Update: We are fine – Miss K has dodged an operation and won’t need to be in the cast for the full 6 weeks.
Funeral is being organised for Friday …. the fallout has begun but I haven’t had to bitch-slap anyone so far.
I will no doubt blog about it, ’cause you all know how much I like to spew verbage about stuff that happens in my life.