A calling ...

"We are called to be architects of the future, not its victims."

"Make the world work for 100% of humanity in the shortest possible time through spontaneous cooperation without ecological offense or the disadvantage of anyone."

- Buckminster Fuller

Monday, September 17, 2012

AMP: Autonomy, Mastery, and Purpose

Some time ago, I posted a link to a Dan Pink You Tube Clip on motivation. Needing to restore my sense of motivation, which has taken a bit of a beating recently, I went to the library to pick up a DVD entitled, The Joy of Mathematics. Seeking therapy in the form of an audiobook, I browsed the audiobook collection, hoping to find a CD of Napoleon Hill's sometimes plagiarized Think and Grow Rich, one of two books Jim Rohn recommended as a much read, along with Mortimer Adler's How to read a book, which I purchased last year from Max Weissmann's organization. I came across a copy of Dan Pink's Drive, and ripped and synched it to my little ASUS626 handheld immediately after coming home, so that I could listen to it while mowing the grass. In Drive, Pink presents a highly lucid, evidence-based challenge to what he calls, Motivation 2.0. Motivation 3.0, or a system based on intrinsic motivation, is presented as a software upgrade to the form of motivation which has predominated in schools and businesses since it was codified by Frederick Taylor in the early twentieth century and expanded upon by B.F. Skinner.

The "bugs" in Motivation 2.0, A.K.A., Behaviorism, have surfaced widely in workplaces and classrooms, according to Pink, because Motivation 2.0 fails to account for three fundamental human needs, Autonomy, Mastery, and Purpose, which must be accounted for in the 21st century workplace, which demands creativity, over rote procedural compliance. Throughout my journey in education, I have struggled to reconcile "behavioral" techniques rooted in Skinner, which predominate in probably most schools, with a feeling that, perhaps, intrinsic motivation was a far more effective approach to helping students want to become lifelong learners.

During the first week, I substituted for an Instructional Assistant in a local Kindergarten class, where I met Kimmy, a strong-willed 5 year old Korean American who had never been in a gym before. When the class filed in along a black line, Kimmy was feeling overwhelmed by the huge open space. She began to cry, "I do not want to play, my parents said that I do not have to play." All the other students followed the gym teacher's instructions to get into their color teams except Kimmy, who just bawled more insistently and louder. Despite his best efforts, the PE teacher was unable to calm her, so he asked me to take Kimmy out of there.

I walked her back to her classroom, and since her teacher was having a meeting with one of the specialists, I walked her back toward the gym. I told her, "You won, you let the adults know that you did not want to be there, and you got your way. Nobody can make you go. You are a tough girl and your parents must be very proud of you." I asked her about whether she had ever had PE. She had not. I confided that PE was my favorite thing to do in school and shared that I thought it might become her favorite subject too. When we got back to the gym, I asked the teacher if it would be okay if Kimmy could just watch the other children as they did their running activity. While she peered in through the door lite, I asked Kimmy how she thought her friends felt about PE. Noticing how much fun her friends were having, Kimmy became more curious. Finally, the PE teacher asked if she wanted to try. She was not ready yet, but she was willing to sit down with her team after the running activity, and agreed to join in the next time. Later, as her class was lining up to go, the teacher asked one more time if she wanted to run across the gym by herself. Kimmy ran from one end of the gym to the line on the other side and then ran back again. Her gym teacher gave her a high 5.