I finished the audiobook of Daniel Pink’s Drive: The Surprising Truth About What Motivates Us yesterday. Today, I had to go to the library to pick up a physical copy to reread some sections. This book is definitely a read - steep - reread. There is a lot to digest and act upon.
The ideas Dan Pink brings out are deeply tied into the movement towards personalizing learning in our classrooms. Rather than recap the entire book, I would recommend you take the time to listen to his powerful TED talk where he lays out the fundamentals of his argument. Seriously, if you haven’t watched it or read his book, you owe it to yourself to watch it (also, read the book). The focus of the talk is from a business perspective. But, I imagine you can think of how it relates to your classroom as you watch.
What Pink puts forth with a slew of evidence is that
There is a gap between what science knows and what institutions do.
These institutions may be businesses in many of his examples, but they are also our classrooms. We have misunderstanding of motivation as it relates to our desired results. Pink puts for our evolution of understanding motivation.
Currently many classrooms are functioning under the guidelines of Motivation 2.0 even though we are asking students to demonstrate mastery of complex cognitive skills.
If we are setting motivation based grades as a threat or reward, an extrinsic motivator, students will learn to get that desired result. That result is the grade. The grade is primary. This is why we always get the question, “What do I need to get an ‘A’?” or “What is my grade?” Students will go to school and do the work to learn how to get a good grade. Now, students may gain the appearance of mastery of the content area in the short term. But, the science shows that when the motivation is intrinsic the mastery of skills and content is much deeper and longer lasting.
There is so much weight put on the grade that it is understandable that students see the grade as the be all end all of school. By allowing our classrooms to perpetuate this type of motivation, we are failing our students and our desire to have them learn the content and skills fundamental to our course. We need to move from motivation 2.0 to 3.0 in our classrooms. Move from extrinsic motivators in our classroom to intrinsic motivators. Move from Type X classrooms to Type i classrooms.
This book presents the research, offers analysis, and general solutions. But, it is up to us to find the solutions for our classrooms and put them into action. Staring with our standards and making them relevant to students is the first step. Crafting outcomes that allow our students to find these connections. Helping learners make these individual connections is the first step towards helping them build that intrinsic motivation to learn. Pink states that motivation is not something we do to others, it’s something they need to build in themselves.