Monday, August 31, 2009

Intrinsic Motivation

Dan Pink's talk about motivation from is fantastic. I'm trying to work out what it means for teaching. The basic idea is that providing extrinsic rewards works only when there is a clearly defined task. When the task requires some lateral thinking, extrinsic rewards hinder the accomplishment of the task.

Alan Lurie is also writing about motivation in his article. Both Pink and Lurie see intrinsic motivation arising from autonomy, mastery and purpose. All of which are lacking in the current educational model. Students have little autonomy. Lot's of mastery and little purpose. What would a model of autonomy look like in a school? Certainly not like the corporate environments described in this Slate article. Autonomy would look a lot like the concept of education by appointment. It would look a lot like gifted education, where students discover their passions and run with them.

Mastery is something that we may or may not do a good job with in education. Open source software and blogging communities are both examples of communities where mastery, individual thought, and contributions to moving the project forward are valued. How can we bring these sorts of communities into our classrooms where students are competing to show off their mastery of skills, concepts and attitudes?

The assistant principal in our high school is looking at this video. It will be interesting to see if he brings this video or these ideas into the staff meetings.

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