I strongly agree with you Ilja. People want free will to pursue things on their own. I for one greatly detest my parent's pushing me (I'm graduating high school, about to head off to UMBC majoring in CE and minoring in CS) toward different activities that I've made clear I do not wish to pursue, or to push me to make a good living (at least as good as my older siblings, of whom are an Air Force Captain, a lawyer, and a nurse), and I do backlash against them by not doing my best. Why? Well, it's complicated to say the least. I guess the best answer is lack of intrinsic motivation. It also has to do with what I see as important in my life. Material wealth is not high on my list, I could care less whether I end up bathing in a bathtub or a jacuzzi, living in a 3000 square foot house in a typical suburb or a 6000 square foot house in a wealthy neighborhood.
Intrinsic motivation is a tough concept. I can only speak on personal experience. I'm intrinsically motivated to learn Java (by the way, I love your book Head First Java, Bert Bates/Kathy!). I'm studying on my own at home in my free time because I genuinely find it interesting to program. I mean, it's really fun to learn new, cool stuff to make you a powerful programmer, isn't it?
I'm extrinsically motivated to do well in piano, for instance. My parents and sister push it, but I'm just not interested. I'd rather spend my time learning Java than practicing Bach Preludes and Fugues.
Motivation, unfortunately, only takes you so far. In fact, it might not take you very far at all. Although one might be motivated to do something, he may choose other things instead. I know I do. I really want to get all A's in school and get 4's and 5's on all my AP exams, but I end up putting probably 1/4th the effort into actually accomplishing that goal than I'd like. A more important factor to learning in my opinion is diligence. The whole time reading and writing my post I've been thinking of Thomas Edison's famous quote, "genius is 99 percent perspiration, 1 percent inspiration".
So is motivation important? Yes, I believe so. But once you're motivated to do something, you need the diligence to do it.
[ May 17, 2006: Message edited by: Daniel Lucas ]