Daniel Pink’s book Drive has given me considerations for the classroom – to pause for reflection, to weigh current practices, and to have encouragement towards a change for the better, Motivation 3.0! Autonomy, mastery, and purpose are such incredible words for all people – to have choice and own decisions, to be constantly moving in the direction of mastery, and to get outside yourself for a purpose that is meaningful and lasting. I am driven by my experiences, and I am driven with knowing how change in motivation systems can help students succeed.
Speaking from experience as a kid, a parent, a classroom teacher, and an employee, (chalk one up for many experiences!) here are my comparisons of 2.0 vs 3.0.
You’ve experienced Motivation 2.0
From past experience, I can see Motivation 2.0 at work – but not working. This is often the carrot and stick motivation technique (sometimes better known as bribery!). As a kid, sometimes I’d get paid $5 for an “A” if it showed up on my report card. Believe me, I didn’t bank on this being my cash landslide! Good grades were important in our house, but honestly, the $5 effect wasn’t a motivator. There was too much time in between report cards for me to keep a steady focus on $5. Besides that, in those in-between times, what mattered the most to me was that my parents kept up with the our schedules and attended everything under the sun. Time and their interest was valued more than money.
The next Motivation 2.0 “if-then”… As a parent, we voice that we are proud of each child’s accomplishment and when each one does their best possible. We’ve tried some “if-then” especially at a very young age. Worked short-term. The minute I started hearing “What do I get?” that was the end of that for me! We don’t give allowances now either. That short phase entered and left our house when the kids would do or not do exactly as was their chore given to them. If I asked them to do anything further, they wouldn’t because it wasn’t on their list …end of parenting strategy! Their focus was narrowed and restricted because of the if-then set up. Now we give some money as things come around or according to school needs. We’ve had no problem with kickback. I think they actually ask for less than I would have at high school age!
Classroom teachers, here we go – an if-then and a carrot-and-stick example. We’ve all been there…
I’ve tried a variety of disciplinary systems over many years. The green/yellow/red sticks in library pockets (not recommended), handing out tickets to cash in for a reward (this could be ok but there are definite problems with it – “I keep losing my tickets! Someone stole them!” not to mention $$ out of my pockets for rewards) and a punch card or fill-a-sticker chart system (not pleased with the work required on my end to keep up with these). These systems are rigid and limiting and have a way of dampening a positive classroom spirit. The opposite effect desired can happen too – when a kid gets down, the downward spiral has started and he may feel that he’ll never be good enough.
Welcome in Motivation 3.0!
Where does Autonomy come from?
As a teacher, seek ways to build intrinsic motivation. Watch and learn from your students. When are they pleased with themselves? Acknowledge that and help grow their “Type I” (Intrinsic) behaviors. These behaviors bring on personal growth which naturally carry forward and eventually outward in purpose.
One way I like to promote accountability with some freedom (autonomy) is to have an understanding and agreement between students and teacher what I call “Classroom Expectations” at the beginning of the school year. It seems that parents are often surprised that a simple, positive system works for my “disciplinary system” (if you need to put a label on it).
After students and I discuss what we want our classroom to be like, it’s a done deal and decided for the year. That’s it. It really does work. Identifying goals such as Be Respectful (kind, considerate, caring actions), Be a Sharing Community (listen to each other and talk), Allow for Learning (quiet, calm classroom), and Accept Others (cooperative work among all) cover ideals for a classroom. There’s really no place for disagreement! By far, the majority of my students rise to these expectations. My desire is to build community and show the value of behaviors that are supportive and allow for learning.
As much as possible, allow students choice in the classroom which results in ownership in their learning.
Mastery? I’m not a master!
This is a contrary thought to what Pink’s definition is of mastery. I love that Pink refers to Mastery as something one pursues, not something as an end point. There’s always something to learn, to seek, to investigate and to consider. Realize that you can’t do everything, but that you can do something. You can find your “flow” – something that you feel strongly about or have high interest in, and at that point make some decisions to grow with it. When we are in the flow, we are in the optimal opportunity for each of us (students too).
Whatever your leadership role may be, 3.0 leadership style is ultimately affective to aid in mastery. Providing help in setting clear goals, giving timely and valuable feedback, and offering challenges well matched to abilities will bring out the strengths in everyone. This takes time in getting to know individuals, but how else could you help someone find their drive? It’s time well-invested.
Is there Purpose in all of this?
You bet there is! Pink’s third element, Purpose, is the home-run, driving factor which underlies autonomy and mastery. Tim Elmore talks of this also in his book Gen iY that students now are seeking and finding the most fulfillment as they connect tasks to a purpose for outreach. Purpose is for all ages. “What’s the point?” is a standing question which gives value (or not) to a task. Older generations teach, volunteer, and lead with example. Younger generations often teach older too. When the exchange happens both ways, it’s exciting to consider what outcomes could happen with cross-generational experiences and energy.
- What would you recommendation for another educational read?I’d like to fill my bookshelf again!