Friday, June 18, 2010

Daniel Pink on Motivation

I've been thinking a lot about motivation recently. What is motivation? If motivation were a currency, how could you acquire it? Does it come in different denominations like bills? Does it have different values based on where it comes from like dollars and euros? Are some people born rich with motivation while others have to earn it and other may have it given to them? I just don't know. But I have recently watched Dan Pink talk about the gap between what science knows about motivation and what business (and schools for that matter) does to motivate people.

In the past we have relied heavily on rewards and punishments to help us motivate people to do the things that we want and need them to do. Pink argues that this simplistic model only works when the behavior or action that we are trying to elicit is equally simplistic and mundane. Let me tell you, there are very few of these sorts of things that we need done at schools. Our biggest struggle is to get our kids to move past this simplest model and start to stretch themselves to be creative and independent (two things that rewards inhibit covertly). Pink suggests in his talk at TED that people need Autonomy, Mastery and Purpose in order to become truly activated and intrinsically motivated. I am totally down with all of that because in my hear I can sense the ring of truth in that. Now all I have to do is have figure out how we can shift our paradigms in schools to match up with this new model and set up the environment where these three guiding principals can be cultivated and then harvested. Now the search will begin to find out if there is anybody out there who can point me down the right path now that I know that there is a path.

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