“The mind is not a vessel to be filled but a fire to be ignited”Plutarch
Motivation is known as a multifaceted concept. Some motivations change as humans develop psychologically while some motivations remain the same throughout an entire lifespan. In the beginning of the book, Drive, Daniel Pink states that humans have three specific “drives”:
- Biological drives that involve satisfying hunger, thirst, and other desires..
- Drives that respond to the presence of rewards or avoiding punishments
- The drive to perform well on a task based on one’s intrinsic motivation
Can anybody tell me what these three concepts remind you of? Well I can give you a hint as to what it reminded me of.
Drive #1 is similar to what you would see on the bottom of Maslow’s hierarchy of needs with the 3rd drive finding parallels to the top part of the pyramid.
But Why Does This Matter?
Because classrooms today still struggle with keeping their students happy and motivated! The majority of our schools still try to educate their students around rewards and punishments with grades, detentions, pizza parties, suspensions, and the list goes on.. Not to say that rewards and punishments are not necessary or helpful, but its harmful to your students to primarily maneuver their lessons through a system of “carrots and sticks”. In page 59 of Drive, the author describes why that is:
- They can extinguish intrinsic motivation
- They can diminish performance
- They can crush creativity
- They can crowd out good behavior
- They can encourage cheating, shortcuts, and unethical behavior
- They can become addictive
- They can foster short-term thinking
So How Do We Solve This Problem?
In chapters 4, 5, and 6 of Daniel Pink’s Drive, he outlines three distinct elements that make up intrinsic motivation. A combination of these three are key to transforming students’ motivations from extrinsic to intrinsic.
Autonomy: The gateway to intrinsic motivation. “People need autonomy over task (what they do), time (when they do it), team (who they do it with), and technique (how they do it)” (Pink, 2009, p. 207). Students are more intrinsically motivated if they are allowed the ability to choose how they want to learn and how they want to perform on projects, assignments, or discussions.
Mastery: The second step towards intrinsic motivation. “Only engagement can produce mastery – becoming better at something that matters to them” (Pink, 2009, p. 207). When students are allowed autonomy, they are more motivated to perform well on tasks they chose. As illustrated above, autonomy + mastery = dedication.
Purpose: The final step that ties it all together. “Humans, by their nature, seek purpose – a cause greater and more enduring than themselves” (Pink, 2009, p. 208). Students need to establish a purpose to all these lessons. Linking a strong and convincing reason to perform and succeed to a student’s autonomy creates an innate desire for them to learn without promise of rewards or fear of punishments.