What You Will Learn
: The three elements of true motivation – autonomy, mastery, and purpose – and the author’s smart techniques for putting these elements into action.
Why We Recommend It
: Daniel Pinks ideas can be applied in the classroom, to motivate students and improve our approach to education.
This 2010 book, a bestseller on a plethora of impressive lists, gives readers a paradigm-shattering way to think about motivation. It’s described as a
“rare book that will change how you think and transform how you live.”
Mr. Pink doesn’t believe in the old notion of motivation through rewards (such as money). This “carrot-and-stick approach” worked successfully in the 20th
century, but is precisely the wrong way to motivate people for today’s challenges.
In Drive, Pink examines the three elements of true motivation – autonomy, mastery, and purpose – and offers smart techniques for
putting these into action. For illustration, he introduces us to scientists, entrepreneurs and companies that are pointing a bold way forward.
Larry Fliegelman, an elementary school principal and frequent contributor to Connected Principals, shows how the concepts demonstrated in Pink’s
book apply to education in, “19 Top Ideas for Education in Drive by Daniel Pink.
” Nineteen ideas are a lot to digest, so we’ve narrowed it down to six biggies:
- “Routine, not-so-interesting jobs require direction; non-routine, more interesting work depends on self-direction.” Lesson for educators: motivate
students by assigning more interesting tasks that they can shape themselves.
- “Rewards, by their very nature, narrow our focus.” Pink and Fliegelman assert that perhaps we shouldn’t restrict a student’s creativity by “clarifying”
the objectives of the assignment to such an extent that we’re telling them exactly which qualities we will reward.
- “The ingredients of genuine motivation are autonomy, mastery, and purpose.” Both students and teachers will produce better results when they’re invested
in what they’re doing. Pink goes on to say, “We should resist the temptation to control people – and instead do everything we can to reawaken their
deep-seated sense of autonomy.”
- Rewards based on numbers may cause “narrowed focus, unethical behavior, increased risk-taking, decreased cooperation, and decreased intrinsic
motivation.” Applying this thought to education, we look at standardized tests. Are the goals/rewards associated with those tests narrowing the focus of
education, decreasing students’ and teachers’ motivation, and possibly even leading to mis-represented test statistics? Test results are also what Pink
refers to as a “short-term prize.” Many school districts use reward systems to boost short-term test scores. But once the reward disappears, the motivation
to continue learning also disappears.
- “Positive feedback can have an enhancing effect on intrinsic motivation.” Enough said.
- “[Offer] ‘Goldilocks tasks’ – challenges that are not too hot and not too cold, neither overly difficult nor overly simple.” In other words:
differentiate the instruction and assignment based on the individual capabilities and motivations of each student. (No small task.)
To see Daniel Pink talk about Drive in his own words, see the video of his presentation at TED.
Image credit: The Altantic