Wednesday, 2 June 2010
What motivates us?
Check out this really cool animated talk by Daniel Pink, an expert on motivation and economics, courtesy of the RSA. Apparently, giving people a financial reward for doing complex cognitive tasks produces poorer work. What really motivates people seems to be three things: challenge, mastery and making a contribution.
What does this tell us about how we organise learning in school? Do students work better if we reward them, not with money, but with better grades? How would learning change if we altered the purpose of coming to school? What if we were able to harness the more intrinsic sources of motivation that really get people going and make them care about what they spend their time on?
I had a thought today in the shower (where I get most of my best thoughts). I've not ruminated on it much but I'm going to share it with you anyway. What if we encouraged all students to spend a part of their week in school working on a personal or collaborative project of their own choosing? In other words, we would collapse the curriculum for a portion of the week (maybe only a couple of hours) or maybe for one whole day every month and we would say to students, "This is your time. Use it to learn what you want, to try something new or work on something you feel passionate about."
Would this work?