Learning About Giving

Students love field trips, and I do too. Visits have to be meaningful though, not just a fun day off from school. When planning trips, one needs to ask what  the children learning from the experience. There are many reasons to leave the classroom. A few include, extending the curriculum, participating in authentic learning, and being exposed to new ideas and resources.

I’ve always appreciated the size and scope of the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, but until this year, didn’t know that they had a visitor’s center adjacent to their headquarters here in Seattle. If you are ever in Seattle, I highly recommend a visit. It’s only about a 7 minute walk from the Space Needle, and it’s free. Our second grade classes visited last week.

The center is divided into 5 main areas:




Hear voices from around the world and see portraits of our foundation family—employees, grantees, partners, beneficiaries, and our co-chairs.

Family & Foundation

Find out why and how the Gates family started this foundation, see examples of how we work around the world, and tell others what you’d do if you had your own foundation.


Discover how our partners are making progress on tough problems globally and locally, and weigh in on newsworthy issues.


Watch and listen to a rotating program of short videos offering a deeper perspective on our work.

Innovation & Inspiration

Solve real-world problems using your own best skills, and learn more about how people just like you are making a difference every day.

My favorite (and I think the children’s) was the innovation and inspiration area. The entire visitor’s center is designed to be interactive, but we could have spent hours in this particular room. Children are asked to think outside the box to design solutions to some of our problems. They also had several examples of products in the field on display such as shelter boxes and filtered drinking straws. They even had prototypes of items like Soccket, a soccer ball that captures energy during play. Enough to light an LED for a few hours or charge small batteries. The foundation pointed out that they weren’t the inventors of these innovations, but supported efforts like these to further their mission.

One of the neat features of this interactive room was that the children’s ideas or creations were displayed and shared instantly on large walls alongside ideas from previous visitors.

One of the other rooms emphasized partnerships. That while one person may have a brilliant idea and can have an incredible impact, it takes teamwork to achieve many of our goals. Our tour ended with our docent asking the children what they would do if they had a foundation. It was great to hear students come up with ideas that were outside the scope of the Gates Foundation, like animal welfare.

Before our visit, our class had a great discussion about needs and wants. The class agreed that basic needs included water, food, and shelter.

They had a harder time deciding at what time in one’s life one could care for themselves. They decided it could be both a need and want depending on the context. The other two topics that students grappled with were education and health. Several students had solid reasons why they were needs, wants, or somewhere in between.

We involve our students in service in many ways such as helping one another in our own classrooms, partnering with students outside our classroom, planting trees in a city park, and packing food at a local feeding center. Helping children see beyond themselves is not always easy, especially in 2nd grade, and some of these ideas come from the adults around them. It’s extremely powerful, however, when service learning ideas come from the students themselves. Hopefully, this visit inspired a few and planted some seeds that will help serve our immediate and global communities.

Does Your Curriculum Allow Enough Play?


“The best questions are the ones that create the most uncertainty.”

The quote, by Beau Lotto comes from a recent TED talk called: Science is for everyone, kids included. It’s about the importance of play. Uncertainty and ambiguity are naturally uncomfortable for humans, but he says that play has helped us step into that zone of uncertainty. Science experiments are in fact games (play with rules), and scientist and creative types have always embraced this while others have been a little more wary.

In this talk, he describes working with a group of 8-10 year olds in developing an experiment from a question the students had. They are also the youngest group to have a peer-reviewed paper published. It’s an example of experiential learning at its best and includes a lot of great educational topics: risk/failure/problem-based learning/collaboration/inquiry/intrinsic motivation/etc. He also brings out Amy O’Toole (now age 12) one of the original researchers to speak about the project as well.

Here’s a link to the paper.

What about Talent?

If you’ve taught long enough, I’m sure you’ve been able to recognize certain talents in your students. How much of that talent was nurtured so that your students were able to practice for over 10,000 hours? If you’ve read Sir Ken Robinson‘s books or seen him speak, you’ll know that his main message is to find the talents that lie within your students and then fuel them to ignite their passions. In Daniel Pink’s book Drive, he claims that passion is a key ingredient for intrinsic motivation and learning. The Harvard Business Review often has articles about hiring, inspiring, and retaining your talent. They often have entire issues dedicated to talent.

On the other hand, Carol Dweck’s Mindset, based on over a decade worth of analyzing research, says that it’s important to praise and focus on effort, not intellect. It builds resiliency and helps kids become life-long learners. In Outliers, Malcom Gladwell cites the 10,000 hours study and asserts that it is indeed effort, not IQ, that make a difference in becoming successful. And Dan Cole’s, The Talent Code, also looks at the 10,000 hours study, pushing the idea of talent to the side.

An article came out in today’s nytimes saying that we can’t dismiss IQ (or talent), and simply think effort alone will help us get from good to great. The title of the article, “Sorry, Strivers: Talent Matters” doesn’t suggest that effort and practice doesn’t count. It just wants us to know that we cannot dismiss intellect and talent.

If you asked me which is more important, talent or effort? I’d say both, but both should allow for mistakes – something some kids are being deprived of in the name of ‘accountability.’

In any case, I’d like to end this post with a quote from Sir Ken Robinson.

“If you’re not prepared to be wrong, you’ll never come up with anything original.”

Autonomy vs. Collaboration: Are they Exclusive of Each Other?

If you’ve read my blog for a while, you know that I’m a huge fan of Daniel Pink, and his book Drive. If you haven’t read it yet, I repost a great animated summary at the end of this post. Using a lot of current research, Pink makes a case for autonomy being an integral part of motivation. The other two parts: mastery, and purpose.

I’m also a big fan of collaboration, and in todays world of sharing everything openly, its also really important. The summer issue of the Harvard Business Review is all about collaboration. In the book, Where Good Ideas Come From: The Natural History of Innovation by Stephen Johnson, he makes a very clear point that great individual a-ha moments are rare and that it’s often the confluence of two or more ideas that lead to game changing innovations. There’s a great quick animation of this as well (posted below).

My personal answer to the question posed in the title of this post is, NO!

A large percentage of our faculty just finished a summer institute at our school that was organized by our school leaders. I can truly say, that I left feeling more excited, motivated, and inspired of the potential that our school has to continue growing. If the aim was to begin cultivating a community of professional learners with growth mindsets who are both autonomous AND collaborative, the institute was an incredible success. Another underlying principle is that everything we do promotes the same kind of purpose, relevance, and collaboration for students.

How was this done? By finding the strengths within each individual, yet creating a safe, trusting environment to share these. By making the purpose a clear and shared one. And by promoting mastery. It was hard work, but work everyone was so eager to do because it had meaning. It wasn’t busy work. Aside from that, the institute was run using a variety of effective models of instruction. That kind of modeling is key for inspiration and the transfer of effective teaching practices into the classroom.

If you’ve read the book Switch: How to Change Things When Things are Hard by the Heath Brothers, the way to do this is to find a way to motivate both our emotional and rational minds, and set a clear path for how this will be done. I sense the beginning of purposeful changes happening at our school this year, and I couldn’t be more excited.



Last week, I posted a TED talk about the importance of play. If you watched the talk, the speaker said we have an education “that values rote learning, memorization and standardization, and devalues self-expression, self-exploration,questioning, creativity and play.” Play is universal, promotes creativity, mastery, and purpose. Current research in neuroscience supports this. The New York Times reported last week that principals are finally re-evaluating homework. At work, play includes going out with coworkers for lunch, doing something you love, being autonomous, and not being a prisoner to a schedule. Some of those things are beyond most teachers’ control. Ask a teacher when was the last time she went out for lunch with a coworker (even on professional days, the trend seems to be that most teachers are working through lunch). I’m lucky, since I love my job (lunches and schedules aside). It allows for some autonomy and creativity, gives me a sense of purpose, and I get to laugh with the kids a lot.

Of course, teaching has the perk of summer break. So what I have done these first three days of summer break? Spent it at work. Something I’ve been meaning to do for the past 10 years is organize materials better and purge old stuff (belonging to previous teachers) that could be better used somewhere else. Well, I almost did it, but I feel good enough that I can leave the room alone until August. Now, I can go play. Before the ISTE conference that begins Sunday night in Philly, I will get to spend some time in NYC and do some of the other things I love: seeing a couple of shows, trying new places to eat, discovering new neighborhoods, and some art.

In the meantime, the ISTE conference is shaping up to be overwhelming. I’m trying to narrow down my choices and just to give you an example, here are my already pared down choices for the concurrent session number 5 on Monday (there are twelve – some are two hours long). Yes, I managed to narrow that one down to seven. Maybe since it’s a tech conference, I’ll use a randomizer app on my phone. I wish I were more decisive.


Assessing Students Using Web 2.0 Tools [Concurrent Session; Lecture]
Location: PACC 107B

Integrating Digital Citizenship in a Web 2.0 World [Concurrent Session; Lecture]
Location: PACC 126A

A Leadership Framework and Instrument for Technology Innovation in Schools [Research Paper; Roundtable]
Location: PACC 105B, Table 3

Separating Truth from Fiction: Information Literacy for Elementary Students [Concurrent Session; Model Lesson]
Location: PACC 119A

Beyond Literacy to Information Fluency in the Age of InfoWhelm [Concurrent Session; Spotlight]
Location: PACC Grand Ballroom B

The Information Fluency Classroom in Action [Concurrent Session; Model Lesson]
Location: PACC 119B

Plan for Integrating 21st Century Skills in the Elementary Classroom [Research Paper; Roundtable]
Location: PACC 105B, Table 1

There are of course all kinds of other meetings in between, 3 keynotes, exhibits, demonstrations, people to meet, and for a fee, there are even evening workshops. Hopefully, I’ll be able to fit in a historical sight or two like Independence Hall, and write about some of the resources and learning I’m doing. As overwhelming as this conference appears, I’m very excited and can’t wait.

What is the Point of Learning?

Several weeks ago, I was fortunate to attend a TEDx event at Eastside Prep. Several speakers really spoke not only about what’s wrong with much of our education system (that would be too easy to do). They also spoke of changes that would enhance learning – the real kind of learning where you take risks, sometimes fail, but persevere until you get it. The reward is intrinsic. The value and motivation comes from the learning itself. For example, changing the schedule to allow for longer deeper inquiry or assessment without grades. Honestly, if I was evaluated on a grading system rather than through goal setting, feedback, and reflection, I wouldn’t do it. So why do we do this with kids in middle, high, and even some elementary schools? I’m glad people are motivated to put on events TEDx events focused around education. There’s another TED education event in this area, TEDxOverlake (How People Learn,) happening on June 18.

This week, the videos of these talks were posted, and I wanted to highlight a couple of speakers that addressed the above in different but concrete and passionate ways. The first is by Shawn Cornally, a high school math and science teacher called The Future of Education Without Coercion (you should also check out his blog, ThinkThankThunk.

The second is the talk by Dr. Tae whom I wrote about a few weeks back. His talk was titled: Can Skateboarding Save Our Schools?

If you’ve read Daniel Pink’s Drive, read Alfie Kohn’s Punished by Rewards, seen the movie Race to Nowhere, or heard Sir Ken Robinson speak or read his book The Element, a very similar theme emerges in all of them.

Blogging Heads 15 Tips

Recently, my head of school suggested that he was almost ready to take a leap and start blogging. He just needed a little nudge. Hopefully this post will help.

Here are just a few tips:

1) Decide on purpose: to share what you’ve read both to teachers and parents, to share resources, to highlight your school, to be reflective and tell stories about the realities of school life, for personal professional development, to take a risk, to learn, etc.

2) Keep it related to education. – I’ve heard that nobody wants to read about what you had for lunch (unless of course it somehow relates to school).

3) Not everyone will like what you have to say (or care) – that’s okay, some will.

4) Keep it professional: don’t name anyone unless they don’t mind; I’ve learned that “transparency” is not the same thing as “say anything”; if you mention another school, do so because you like what they’re doing;

5) It’s okay to comment on issues and write your opinions: some issues are going to cause disagreement – that’s good, as long as the discourse is civil

6) First, read some other blogs written by Heads and Principals: Here are a few suggestions of Independent School Heads to start (there are other independent school blogging Heads and plenty of great public school ones that I’ll share another time):

21k12 (I like palindromes) – by Jonathan Martin: Head of School at St. Gregory’s in Tuscon
Peak Experiences – by Michael Ebling: Head of PK to 9th grade Summit School in Winston-Salem
Compass Point – by Josie Holford: Head of Poughkeepskie Day School

These three hosted a session called “Blogging Heads” at the last NAIS conference in DC, which I followed remotely. You can read a summary of their panel discussion here.

7) You don’t have to write every day.

8. It’s a way to responsibly model an authentic medium that many of our students will or already use.

9) You may reach people well beyond our own school community.

10) Think of it as a discipline that motivates you: for some that’s running, gardening, knitting, volunteering – do it because you want to

11) Like those other disciplines mentioned above, don’t do it for extrinsic rewards. The intrinsic rewards should be good enough.

12) Don’t always expect comments or replies.

13) Don’t expect all your teachers to blog. Do encourage them to be reflective about their practice – whatever form that may be. Blogging is not part of a teacher’s job. It’s just one of many ways to share.

14) Realize that sometimes, you have to stop, and even though you set out to write 15 tips, sometimes 14 will do.

A nudge was asked for. The  book Nudge is a book about the psychology of choices.

The philosophy called libertarian paternalism is what the authors of the book say works best in designing choice architecture.
I’m just a teacher who likes to think about education and share what I’m thinking: I’m not a philosopher, psychologist, or even a Head of School. To blog or not to blog? I’ll keep you posted.

Persistance to Mastery (Using Skateboarding as an Analogy for Learning)

I attended an incredible event at TEDxEastsidePrep today. The topic was: Evolution of Instruction: Inquiry, Innovation, Identity and it exceeded my expectations.  I tweeted a couple of nuggets I got from each presenter and I wonder if that will encourage teachers to take a risk with twitter as a learning tool.

There’s an overwhelming amount of great things to share, and perhaps I’ll write about all of it.  One speaker, Dr. Tae was off the charts. A physics professor and avid skateboarder, he talked about what has been a common theme at our school: Learning by making mistakes. He walked through a trick he wanted to learn by showing us a shortened video of his progression. He got it on his 58th try. That meant he FAILED 57 times. There was no physical incentive for this trick other than the accomplishment of the act itself. There were no letter grades (an F for his first attempt, maybe a C+ near the middle). He only had a clear goal, persistance, practice and hard work. How are our children learning? Are their learning tasks as relavent, engaging, and clear to them? Do they persist or do they give up easily? All extremely good questions to ask oneself and their students.

Here’s a video on Dr. Tae’s blog that gives you an idea of what he means when he says we need to build a new culture of teaching and learning. The end of the school year is upon us and it’s a fairly busy time, but I hope to share one nugget from all the speakers.

Learning from New Teachers

When I was asked several years ago to serve on one of the boards at the College of Education at Seattle University, there was only one possible response I could give, “Of course!” While the courses varied when I went to grad school there several years ago, one thing that the college stayed true to was their commitment to service, diversity, and social justice.

I just returned from one of my favorite meetings there, because I have the privilege to be part of a team with other board members and professors to assess the portfolios of graduate candidates. It’s one of my favorite evenings because I get to see other passionate teachers who take their scholarship and learning seriously, I get to see others go through a very rigorous and reflective process, but most of all I get to learn from all these educators who are committed to growth, learning, and becoming better at their craft.

I’m about half-way through my career as an educator, but there is so much to learn from new teachers. The world they have grown up in is significantly different from the one I grew up in, and they have expertise in areas that I don’t. Sure, experience counts for a lot, but only if you’re still willing to learn and grow.

A fire was lit anew a few years ago when I read the books, Mindset by Carol Dweck and Drive by Daniel Pink. Perhaps my motivation to grow as a teacher has been a little intense at times, but it is who I am. Having worked tonight with such talented, committed, and passionate new teachers, I have a renewed sense of urgency to learn from the expertise of our young and able teachers.

It’s a tough economic time to be a young teacher, but listening to these teachers talk about what they will take away from grad school and bring back to their students and classrooms reignites my optimism in education.

Now a Giant, Google Works to Retain Nimble Minds – NYTimes.com

Now a Giant, Google Works to Retain Nimble Minds – NYTimes.com.

This article, which cites Daniel Pink, is a great article about how difficult it is to retain innovators, because if rewarded fairly, it’s not about the money for these people. They are driven by autonomy, purpose, and mastery.

The same with students. For far too long schools have been giving higher grades for compliancy, not necessarily aptitude or mastery in a subject. In this nytimes article: A’s for Good Behavior, it goes on to say that for far too long, the ‘good student’ who did their homework, their extra-credit work, etc. got the A. Many who could demonstrate mastery received lower grades. There are many grade-less schools out there as models. Are there any test-less ones?

Both these articles describe what’s wrong with the old business approach of carrot and stick. In the first article, they don’t need carrots or sticks, they need something to keep them going. In the second article, the letter grade is the carrot (or stick) – it’s meant to keep management happy, not necessarily those who are being managed.


Hiring and Retaining Good Teachers

This came from an ASCD smart brief that came in my mailbox earlier this week and I couldn’t have said it better myself.
“No education system can outperform the quality of its teachers, yet wide-scale, consistent efforts to attract and retain great teachers are hard to find. Lately, teacher quality has been an either-or proposition, with policies and publications fixating on retaining the best performers and dismissing the worst. This is not a human capital strategy for building a world-class teacher corps.”

They continue saying, “Performance pay may get a lot of press, but actual teachers and teaching candidates rank job supports, particularly strong leadership and a high-quality peer group, as having the biggest influence on whether they pursue a career in education.”

In a column in  the magazine Fast Company earlier this year, the Heath Brothers (authors of Made to Stick and Switch), said that rather than to keep focusing on looking for and retaining ‘talent’, it would be more efficient and best to grow it. You can read the full post here.

All of this assumes first of all, that everyone is being compensated fairly to begin with.

Finally, I’m was happy to discover a little while back that the Huffingtonpost has added a page dedicated to education. There’s a post about what the possible future of education might look like. The author of the post says, “rather than focusing on improving the classroom, we should be devoting resources to improving the brains students bring into the classroom by enhancing each student’s neural capacities and motivation for life-long learning.” In other words developing growth-mindsets. Teaching kids to develop adaptable, flexible, and thinking brains that are driven.




Doers of Mathematics

I’ve blogged about process quite a bit, but there’s a great article in the September issue of Teaching Children  Mathematics titled “From the Inside Out” (by Fillingham and Barlow)


Children vote on liking or disliking a vegetable and then work in cooperative teams to create graphs.

about what motivates kids intrinsically to become “doers of math.”

The article notes that it isn’t sufficient simply to look at the National Council of Teachers of Mathematics (NCTM) process standards, but to actually observe the behaviors and interview the students to find out what makes math so exciting and fun for them. Just doing it, isn’t enough. This journal is published by the NCTM.

There are some regular classroom motivating factors . But we must look at their own personal motivations. The authors of the article notice three behaviors emerge.

  1. Connecting to previous material.
  2. Responding beyond the original question.
  3. Conjecturing or predicting with relevance to mathematical discussions

Students will engage in these behaviors without prompting if actively engaged. How do we get more students to be this engaged? Teachers need to model the desired behaviors, and this can be done through simple open ended questions:

How does this task relate to ____?

What would happen if______?

Teachers should acknowledge the behaviors when they observe it, use student work as exemplars, and can also ask questions like:

Do you agree or disagree? Explain.

Is your response similar or different?

How is your response similar or different?

Finally, the article concludes by saying that it’s not our job to force kids to move from extrinsic to intrinsic motivation – you can’t do that – but to create an environment that enables kids to initiate their own behaviors as doers of mathematics.

In the picture above (from this year’s 2nd grade vegetable taste test), the image shows a station where children try a vegetable and then vote yes or no using a red or green unifix cube. They are familiar with the process as they have done it since Kindergarten. However, the progression from K to 2 is that they begin in K by voting on just one or two vegetables and the whole class creates one or two graphs. By the time they get to second grade, they taste 6 different vegetables and work in cooperative teams to create 6 separate graphs. They then are asked how their graphs are similar, different, what worked, to make up questions related to their graphs, etc.

They are definitely becoming doers of mathematics.

This article and video from edutopia features how to teach math as a social activity, and fits in line with the article mentioned above.

The current Fall 2010 issue of Independent School is titled, The Next Generation: New Leaders, New Thinking. There are some great pieces about developing new leadership in administration. Article, by Reveta Bowers talks about “passing the baton to a new generation of leaders who will lead with skill, knowledge, and heart.”

There are many more articles like that in that vain or ones that offer advice for people seeking leadership roles.

Unfortunately, I love the classroom too much to leave it. Will this change in a few years? Who knows? The traditional options for academic advancement while remaining a classroom teacher are few and far between. There’s the Ph.D route, but I’m not interested in teaching teachers or doing the research, though I’m fascinated by ed. research and love reading about it. There’s also the Ed.D route, but most of those programs are designed for people who want to take on administrative roles. What’s left for teachers is often “trainings” or “workshops” in various programs. As mentioned in the Reeves book, Transforming Professional Development into Student Results, the focus should be on people and practices rather than the programs.

So what’s a classroom teacher, who wants to remain a classroom teacher to do? I’m not sure what the answer to that is yet. One can only sit on so many committees without taking away from their primary role of  being a classroom teacher.

Trying to influence policy changes when you’re not the one who makes those decisions can be  difficult. The subheading of the title to the issue of Independent School contains the words “New Thinking.” Ed. reform or change is hard, especially if you’re one of those people who are comfortable with the saying, “If it aint broke….” Issues in education continue to evolve. We learn more about how kids’ brains work – how memory works. We learn more about certain practices. The world is changing rapidly. I wasn’t taught about sustainability and gardening, but they’re both important things to learn about.

All I know is many of us just want to become better at what we do, and we have to keep learning and practicing in order to do that. Thats purpose and mastery. According to Daniel Pink, in his book, Drive, one also needs a certain amount of autonomy to remain motivated and passionate.

There’s another great article in the Independent School issue about Innovation, titled “Creating a Culture of Innovation Now.” One of the principles listed is: “Innovation, not instant perfection.”

Learning is messy, involves taking risks, and includes failures and successes. This is true whether you’re a second grader, or a classroom teacher trying to grow.

Great Article in NYtimes

The most read article today in the nytimes is titled: Forget What you Know About Good Study Habits. (it came out on the 6th, but I’m only getting to it now. I haven’t read an ed. article in a while, but this one really struck me.

It reinforces the importance of integration, scaffolding, and moving children around. It also highlights that there is not one single right way to do anything, but there are good and better ways to learn. It also mentions motivation and growth (two things I’m really interested in).

I like this graphic accompanying the article by Ellen Weinstein.

This week all my students sat next to a different person each day. This week we conducted lessons at their tables and on the floor in the classroom, outside around our school building, and in the hallway, just to mention a few places.

The three R’s at our school are Respect, Responsibility, and Resourcefulness. I also hope to add Resilience, Rigor, and Relationships. Also very important life skills.

Now, on to some non-educational fun magazine reading.

Motivation Revisited

I reviewed the book Drive by Daniel Pink here a few months ago and it’s funny as I read our newest version of our faculty handbook, much of that research isn’t being utilized. People will generally spend hours at something they love to do if they are genuinely motivated – that is not by carrots and sticks, but rather intrinsically. Yet, as Pink mentions many businesses run by the carrots and sticks.

I’ve been working with some pretty dedicated teachers who have spent a lot of time setting up their classrooms for the beginning of the school year. And working hard not because they ‘have to’ but because they really want their classrooms to be welcoming for their student’s arrival.

It’s not that big a deal to have a list of “you have to do this” in the big rule book, but it’s not the most motivating thing. I know in most of our classrooms, we have a general framework (our school’s mission), but we have the students involved in making up the class rules, behavior expectations, and work ethic. It’d be nice if the faculty handbook I received yesterday had a similar format. But I understand the need for a growing small organization to have that in place.

I find it interesting whether it’s committees, after school clubs, or other things, how it’s the same people who volunteer. When it becomes a ‘have to’ will these volunteers do so less, the same, or more? Will those who don’t suddenly step up? I wonder if it’s worth doing a little action research project.

I just cracked open my Ed. Leadership copy which arrived in the mail and was pleased to find two things.

1) I submitted an article for this issue – no, it did not get published. One of the scholars I cited, Cathy Vatterott (the homework lady herself) was published instead. What was I thinking?

2) Carol Dweck, who’s work on Mindsets I adore has an article titled “Even Geniuses Work Hard.”

I can’t wait to write and share about some of these articles in here, but it’ll have to wait. There’s still a classroom to set up.


I just finished reading Daniel Pink’s new book Drive: The Surprising Truth About What Motivates Us. Many may be familiar with his previous book, A Whole New Mind. Pink’s own twitter summary states: Carrots & sticks are so last century. Drive says for 21st century work, we need to upgrade to autonomy, mastery & purpose.

Pink sums up his own book better than I could:

“When it comes to motivation, there’s a gap between what science knows and what business does. Our current business operating system – which is built around external, carrot-and-stick motivators – doesn’t work and often does harm. We need an upgrade. And the science shows the way. This new approach has three essential elements: (1) Autonomy – the desire to direct our own lives; (2) Mastery – the urge to get better and better at something that matters; and (3) Purpose – the yearning to do what we do in the service of something larger than ourselves.”

While written as a book for business, this applies to schools in so many ways. If salaries are considered adequate or equitable, the idea of merit pay, (a big topic with regard to teacher compensation around the country) according to Pink, will actually backfire and have the opposite effect. I work with several teachers who are voracious readers of children’s literature, they love sharing their expertise, and are wonderful resources for everyone. What Pink states is that if you paid them a certain amount for each book they read, their motivation for doing what they were doing for free in the first place because they love what they do will actually decrease. Same goes with students, if you reward them with stickers, gold stars, or grades, their intrinsic motivation for learning can become an extrinsic one for the reward. Alfie Kohn has been writing about this for years. What to do? Pink gives plenty of examples which I will comment on in the near future. Developing growth mindsets (a la Carol Dweck) is one of them.