Dan Pink on The Puzzle of Motivation

Since I am neck-deep in research about motivation, Building Positive Relationships will be back next week as we tie together the upcoming posts on motivation and what our findings mean for relationships in the classroom.

During my research into the Self-Determination Theory, I came across this really great TEDTalk by Dan Pink. Dan Pink is a career analyst (whatever that is), and describes the gap between what science has shown us about motivation and how business behaves in regard to motivation.

Even though Dan talks in relation to businesses, I encourage you to think about his argument in terms of teaching or parenting rather than managing because the argument remains the same.

Self-Determination Theory

Okay, I am reading a new book. I am not going to say much about the book right now, as I plan on reviewing it very soon. However, I have learned a lot of very interesting information that I am going to share on the blog.

So I ran into the Self-Determination Theory during the reading of this book, and stopped reading to do a little more research into the theory itself. The theory is based on motivation and what motivates people to do things or to act a certain way. It focuses on intrinsic vs. extrinsic motivation, how environments influence motivation, what psychological needs are required for people to become motivated, and how goals play a part in motivation.

I have talked a lot about motivation on this blog, and how the way we interact with children affects how children are motivated to learn and behave. This book has been great because it has provided a lot more pieces of the puzzle of what motivates us into the mix. For example, the book states that feelings of autonomy within a lesson, putting a lesson in context, making a lesson personal for the students, and giving the students choices will help increase students’ intrinsic motivation to learn a lesson. And not only that, but students will approach the lesson with a desire to understand the material on a deeper level, rather than the surface-level understanding that is so common these days (think: memorization).

We all want to find ways to motivate the children in our class to learn. The implications of the Self-Determination Theory are many, and if we pay attention to what the theory is actually telling us, we may have a better shot at increasing the level of understanding happening in the classroom.

I will be writing much more about this in the very near future. For now, for more information on the theory itself, visit this website.