How to venture in the snow, when you don’t have to…

In the light of the interesting weather, we are to expect… What makes us leave the warmth of our apartments and hop on a bus to go to school? What makes us venture out in such unpredictable weather? Is it the excitement to learn? or is it the fear of getting a bad grade? Is it the fear of getting in trouble for not showing up to a team meeting? Or the true intrinsic motivation to work? The answers to these questions are all in tune with this week’s theme, regarding learning, and the motivation behind it.

One of the most popular issues faced in schools and academia, are often what’s going to be on the test? And the desire the students have to get a good grade using the least amount of effort, and resources… Until something changes…

Well what changes? As Dan Pink called it, it is the intrinsic motivation. Intrinsic motivation is the most powerful resource any human can have as a part of his or her life. It’s not that reward you’ll get for being the top student of your class–or the honors distinction in undergrad. Instead, it is truly having the freedom to do what one desires– autonomy as Pink named it. And wanting to do it.

I loved the example he gave, about the employees having no obligation to show up to work. And their only obligation was to complete their work. And how this company was super successful. At the same time, how companies like Google give their employees the option to do whatever they want for a fifth of their time. This is really intriguing and interesting. This wasn’t the first time I watched his Ted Talk. And every time I see it, I’m always impressed.

Of course, in the context of academics, well how do we let our students have this intrinsic motivation?! According to Alfie Kohn, that’s simple… Well, not so much. But, however, there’s a way to work around it until folks get more creative. One model explained in Kohn’s article, is that of making a school a democracy. We can’t stop giving out grades, obviously… At least for the time being. But making our schools a democracy will help.

If we let students do what they like, sometimes… if we give them a writing assignment that has no specifications beyond being in the scope of the class.. If we give them the ability to explore… if we give them the ability to decide their grades with the teacher… that will help. This will help grades be less torture.

Also, if we help our students discover their passions… They will be willing to pursue them at any cost. They will be willing to do anything and everything possible to achieve there dreams. ¬†They’ll be willing to venture out on foot during the snow, to run an experiment they enjoy.

At least that’s what I believe, as aligned to the media related to this module– regarding education and motivation.