This study investigated the extent to which students worked or did not work in school for essentially social reasons rather than for academic reasons. Primary students in Year 6 (n = 253) and high school students in Year 7 (n = 231) completed a survey about reasons for working or not working in school. Students indicated that social motives encompassing parents, teachers, and peers were important to them, both as reasons to work and reasons not to work. ANOVA analyses produced interesting sex and level of schooling differences. Females students and primary students were more likely to hold social reasons for working hard (including to please the teacher, to make the teacher look good, and wanting to be like friends), while male students and high school students were more likely to hold social reasons for not working (including to annoy a disliked teacher, to make a disliked teacher look incompetent, wanting to be like friends, not wanting to look stupid, and not working because parents don’t care). These results are discussed in terms of the complexity of students’ motivation. Though it is desirable to have students working because they find tasks intrinsically interesting, it is unrealistic to imagine that this will occur for most students most of the time. Pedagogy that incorporates students’ social motives and fosters an awareness of future goals may increase learning.