Shifting into Drive

For generations it has been thought that the best way to produce great results is the ole’ carrot-stick method. Punishment for failure and rewards for success, such as when you were a kid and school and your report card reflected whether or not you would be out playing with your friends before the next big test. Suddenly though a New York Times bestseller has hit the market telling us this way of thinking is wrong. Author Daniel H. Pink of the novel Drive illustrates how our centuries old manner of thinking is highly flawed meaning this carrot-stick approach is more harmful than helpful.

Pink writes in his novel how detrimental offering rewards for excellent work can lead to a company’s end. In promising these rewards it takes away the value of the work performed making workers less interested in providing it. On the other hand Pink provides multiple examples where companies that provided more freedom in how a job is completed gives the companies a more maximized yearly profit.

Extrinsic vs Intrinsic Motivation

The explanation behind this is that there are different ways of motivating people.

Extrinsic Motivation is an outside force that acts on a person to reach a certain goal like:

  • Studying for enough time to get a good grade on the test.
  • Working hard enough in your career to get that pay raise you need to buy your first house.
  • or simply having those little contests at work that gets the winner a gift card to their favorite restaurant.

The truth behind the matter is that these extrinsic rewards designed to motivate people actually is completely devastating to productivity because it culls our intrinsic motivation. Intrinsic motivation is our inner desire to accomplish the tasks we set for ourselves. It is why we do things such as providing for our community, it provides the opportunity to display our skills which gives us a sense of belonging and entertainment to us.

When extrinsic motivation is applied it makes the task undesirable and if given a reward it makes an expectation for that reward every time that the task is performed. This leads to burnout making a larger reward necessary to keep the motivation up. Eventually the reward will become too great meaning it will not be provided and will make the task completely unbearable.

As future teachers we have to make sure we do not kill our students’ motivation like the old man in the video above.To fully utilize this new information in the classroom one must design the environment to replace extrinsic motivation with intrinsic motivation. Ways we can do this is by:

  • Get the students involved in their education. Focus on what excites them in science and have them set learning goals for their education.
  • Open up the possibilities of how assignments get completed, so students can show off their creativity.
  • Draw the attention of our students to really get them involved in the learning process
  • Lastly, one has to give students the opportunity to display the knowledge that they have gained. Have them teach the class, in this way they model giving back to the community, this is the intrinsic motivation.

The best way to involve intrinsic motivation into the classroom is by making students into active participants engaging in the knowledge we hope they obtain.

One method of teaching that I personally have seen growing in popularity, relatively on social media apps, is Montessori teaching. In the video below they explain how the children of several age groups act more as a family. The video demonstrates how students work in groups and teach the class themselves as they travel along their teaching journey. They even use problem solving techniques without adult intervention to restore their own sense of community when there are disputes between students.

Montessori Classroom

This is the type of classroom that we as futures should work towards providing for our future students.

Problem Solving is a Must Have In The Workplace, Here is Why


  1. Hey Rachel,
    The main way to draw the attention of your classroom would be to include more autonomy. Let the students pick how they complete assignments, this will help them feel like they are a part of their own learning process which will boost that intrinsic motivation.

  2. Hey Mckenna,
    Thank you for the suggestion. I got a little carried away with the videos and was even surprised myself when you pointed out there were 4. I just liked the videos a little too much and should have written a bit more.

  3. Hey Nate,
    I think all students can be intrinsically motivated. The key to this I believe is creating a community between the students and then setting up an environment that they’ll want to actively participate in. Intrinsic motivation will move the students to work with their peers. The way to do this would be matching students up in pairs or groups randomly. Don’t let their previous group of friends take over the classroom because it’ll keep them separate. You need to mix the students up and properly challenge them which they’ll present to the class. I think that would be the best way to foster intrinsic motivation in the classroom.

  4. Hey Anthony!
    Great job! I thought you included some great videos to add to your blog post, especially the Montessori school video. One of the things I liked about your blog was the way you explained why extrinsic rewards aren’t effective and how they decreases productivity. One of your suggestions to increase intrinsic motivation was to draw the attention of students to get them involved in the learning process, how would you implement that in your classroom?

  5. Hi Anthony!
    Like Nate said, I also really enjoyed the graphics and videos you included in your blog post! One suggestion I have though, is to include descriptions of the videos and maybe even fewer videos. They are all related to the topic, but maybe include one to two videos instead of four! They contain a lot of information, and some of that information could be put into words in your blog post instead of having the video. I hope this helps, good work!

  6. Hey Anthony! I really liked your blog post, especially the helpful diagrams and videos. I thought the video on how to turn work into play was a great way to think about this topic. You included a lot of great ways to build intrinsic motivation, especially by getting students involved in their education and showing a genuine interest in what they’re studying. I wonder if all students are able to be intrinsically motivated? Is this ability easier for some students than others? If so how would you motivate these students?

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