I was quite delighted to come across "The surprising truth about what motivates us" video produced by the RSA. It's a wonderful animation of a compelling ten minute talk by Dan Pink. It contends that clear evidence shows that bonus money is not an effective motivator for complex cognitive tasks. Instead, autonomy, mastery, and purpose are the keys to better performance and personal satisfaction.
Though this video is aimed at a business audience, the implications for education are enormous.
Students: Let's apply the lessons of "What Motivates Us" to our students by substituting grades for bonus money. Most of the students I teach are motivated to get good grades, but the system too often does not motivate these same students to learn. They memorize information or ask the teacher, "What do you want". They think nothing of copying each other's homework or notes. They read Sparks Notes to pass their literature assignments. It's a game.
The themes of the video dovetail perfectly with my Challenge Based Learning experiences. I saw students genuinely excited about the quests they were shaping. In several cases they went far beyond my expectations. And by giving them control they took their topics in different and far more imaginative directions than I might have assigned. (The stopped asking me what I wanted when it was clear I wouldn't play the game). Knowing that they were creating for the benefit of others and knowing that they would report their ideas to their classmates, made a huge impact on their motivation.
I think the video explains in part why teachers are so resistant to change: 1) They enjoy their autonomy in the classroom and their sense of mastery over the material. Pink's work also has important implications for staff development: change will only be achieved through motivators of autonomy, mastery, and purpose. It can't be imposed top-down or through a regimented design.
M-Hub This project has come together so quickly because it taps into these motivators, particularly the sense of purpose. When we go live, M-Hub will benefit the entire school community. Already, students and staff have devoted many hours to the project. Will it help their "grades" or effect their pay? Of course not. Speaking for myself, I've been far more engaged in it than some of the things I get paid to do.
I would love to hear your reactions to the video.