What motivates someone to do something? Is it peer pressure, authoritative power, self-motivations or something completely different? In Daniel Pink's Drive or a Great visual of Drive he speaks to the lack of success of the carrot and the stick. If the fact is that increased rewards don't equal increased success why do we do this in our schools? I wonder about this topic as I work with students in their classrooms, the new adults coming into our work force and our teachers in our every changing education system.
How are students motivated to learn? We change their curriculums, their grade level expectations, and the devices they use to solve things and they continue to "complete the assignments". Many students complete these assignments because they are told to do so by the authoritative figure (i.e. the teacher). I find it interesting that many teachers will tell me that the times that they had a student's attention was during a certain type of activity usually involving working with peers creating something (visual, audio, paper/pencil, with a device).
As I am sure I am at least two generations removed from the generation of students that are entering the work force I find it interesting to hear about people's expectations and motivations in the world. With social media, 24/7 video/news, and always being linked in many new employees need constant praise and attention. We are working with the trophy generation, children that have always been told that they are "great", they will earn a ribbon/trophy for their effort, and that things come easy. I have found that this it is difficult to figure out what motivates these individuals. Is their motivation to seek approval from their peers or bosses or is it what they get from completing a task? As a person that works on many tasks throughout the day and week I don't expect a "way to go" for all of the tasks that I complete, my motivation is to mark it off my list and move to the next item.
In our education system with over worked and underpaid teachers, support staff and administrators it comes down to doing what you love. As mentioned in a July article in the Huffington Post If you are motivated by Money and Power you will fail. This essay speaks to the fact that most educators are driven and motivated to come to work and work with students because they love what they do. When I went into education it was beaten over my head that I wouldn't get rich and would not be compensated for my craft. Many of my peers in college saw that this was not a life that they wanted to pursue and switched majors. As I have worked in a school system for the past fourteen years I have seen many of my peers leaving the education system. I would say many of them enjoyed working with students, but at some point they lost their passion or love for teaching. Did they lose their motivation?
I look at what motivates me....I am motivated by a sense of accomplishment for a task I marked off my list, a teacher getting a resource that they need to be effective, a student getting a great result on their project or test that they worked hare on and my two children learning something new or being able to do something on their own....is it enough motivation?