As a teacher (and/or parent), you’re well-acquainted with the concept of carrots and sticks to motivate children – and grown-ups, too, for that matter. People’s behaviors are shaped by rewards and punishments, right?
Not necessarily, concludes author Daniel Pink. If you haven’t yet read his book Drive: The Surprising Truth About What Motivates Us, you’re in for a surprise.
Looking at a number of interesting research experiments, Pink observes that humans are actually motivated by intrinsic factors: “The joy of the task [is] its own reward,” in other words. And external rewards – such as increased pay or blue ribbons – can actually serve to demotivate us:
[R]ewards can perform a weird sort of behavioral alchemy: They can transform an interesting task into a drudge. They can turn play into work. And by diminishing intrinsic motivation, they can send performance, creativity, and even upstanding behavior toppling like dominoes.
The implications of this in the educational realm, of course, are huge. “Try to encourage a kid to learn math by paying her for each workbook page she completes,” notes Pink, “and she’ll almost certainly become more diligent in the short term and lose interest in math in the long term.”
Unfortunately, much of our educational system is built upon what Pink calls “Motivation 2.0”: “We’re bribing students into compliance instead of challenging them into engagement.”
So what’s the solution?
Pink offers nine ideas for turning kids into autonomous, purposeful thinkers – including a three-part test teachers should ask themselves before handing out a given homework assignment, as well as the concept of DIY report cards.
In short, Drive is an entertaining, eye-opening read for parents and teachers alike. You’ll never look at motivation and engagement in the same way again.
And, as a special thanks to you, our readers, we’re giving away a brand-new copy of Drive this week!
How to Enter The Book Giveaway
To enter the giveaway, just leave a comment on this post letting us know why you’d like to win the book. For one additional bonus entry, mention this giveaway on Facebook, Twitter, and/or your own blog, and leave a separate comment here letting us know you’ve done so. All entries must be in by 6 p.m. Eastern time this Friday, 5/16/14, and we’ll choose a winner at random after that time.