This is a continuation of the conversation on Intrinsic Learning ...

Extrinsic motivation ... mmm. The point about Montessori design, or what I would now call 'probe design' is that the 'probe' (aka 'learning object') is an affordance offered to the learner to explore something - internal, sensory, haptic, synaesthetic (as in MEDIATE, a learning environment for children on the autistic spectrum), external, cultural, abstract -or a mix of any number of the above (e.g. the trinomial cube, with or without 3-colour coding).

But the operative word is 'offered'. The 'probe' is designed, put into the learning environment, introduced with as few words as possible, and 'let go of', to observe what happens when it's offered to learners.

So ... the decision / agency to engage is the learner's own, hence the motivation is intrinsic, albeit that the task, the affordance, can be internal (purely cognitive), heavily sensory (colour sorting, sent sorting), haptic / 1 / 2 or 3 dimensional, abstract (number rods, beads, cubes, base 10), 'external', or a fusion of several of these aspects.

And 'offered' in a good Montessori classroom is just what it says. Both 'yes' and 'no' are valid responses from the learner, who may or may not want / need to explore particular affordances, repeat current affordances, or even regress to previous affordances ... it is up to the teacher (aka Montessori 'directress') to observe and engage with the learner enough to be able to turn to, and offer, another, different 'learning carrot', or (if none of the existing learning carrots are accepted) to design new ones - and new 'materials'. Montessori tasks are often 'demonstrated' materially, physically, without words, i.e. without the scaffolding of 'instruction'. Not for the faint hearted.

The neat roles (and hierarchies - but more of that anon - that's another whole issue) that separate 'teachers' and 'learning designers' have to be eliminated. The teacher has to be a creative 'workshop facilitator', and be able to design new exercises on the hoof if they are going to be able to observe, respond to, and "follow" the learner. It's not 'educare' (with strong Latin roots of 'leading' - I am told), its empirical observation that follows the learner's stages of sensory, motor, haptic, synaesthetic, cognitive, spatial, and intellectual development, and responds to them by offering other 'learning carrots'. (Empirical, evidence-based, emergent learning design).

This is teaching/learning design as a 'chef' might approach it, not a 'cook' - the point is to expand the repertoire of affordances, not repeat and defend someone else's fixed set of recipes.

So ... perhaps we can define 'extrinsic' motivation the driver of the 'outcomes' that a cook would learn, and 'intrinsic motivation' as the driver of the skills that a chef would develop. Compliant learning v. creative learning, no? Another way to explore this is simply to explore how (and why) Montessori children learn to write before they can read - and no, that's not a mistake (see sandpaper letters, etc).

All of which does not mean that there is no place for a curriculum, just that the curriculum has to be as emergent as the learning is. (And of course the skills of the cook and the chef would overlap).

And catching the train ... that's a real part of the story - the child's mother did want to stop her completing her inside/outside animal box sorting task in mid stream, as the mother did want to leave to be in time for a particular train.

That's as real as it gets ... the micro dynamics of respecting a toddler's internal (creative) motivation, in the face of real train timetables - or not.

Simone's link on rhythm is