Tuesday, 23 August 2011

3rd post: What motivates you?

Tuesday 23rd August, 2011

 I have always been a thinker. I enjoy philosophical questions. Do you ever ponder what makes us choose motivation?  What is it, that makes you propel yourself into a positive mindset? And does it matter?  I believe it does. Motivation is your why. Why do you do the things you do? Motivation is your "internal engine" - your drive to achieve your goals, wishes and desires. 

Below is a short presentation about the science of motivation.
I am always amazed at the RSA animation videos. Their artwork mesmorises and astounds me. 
In short, Dan Pink presents the following findings (tremendous food for thought):
As long as the task involved mechanical skills, bonuses worked as expected. That is, higher pay=better performance. HOWEVER, if the task involved rudimentary cognitive skills the larger reward lead to poorer performance. Self direction is important. Concepts of mastery, satisfaction and making a contribution. 
A sense of purpose.

Your students may ask  "What is our purpose?"   Some may say  "to be inspired" or "be engaged". This can be true and it is a worthwhile argument, however we still wind back to the age old question.........but why?
I will be fascinated to hear your responses to this question.
(please leave a comment towards the end of this post)

Here are a few of mine:
  • Our purpose is one of character building. We experience as much as we can to lead effective lives via good character. This sustains relationships, aids peace and up keeps society. 
  • Our educational purpose is to learn how to learn! Therefore enabling the transference of learning skills to varying situations. A life long gift. 
  • When learning you may be exposed to an area of life that you never knew existed. This could be your new hobby or career path.
  • Other purposes of education include (but are not limited to) friendship building, collaboration skills, time management, work management and interpersonal skills.
This is the why. This is what should motivate us. This is what we should be explaining to our students so they can see the drive.

If we look to the father of motivational thinking Abraham Maslow (who was a teacher), we can see that our basic needs ought to be meet before we can hope to function in other areas of life ie humans NEED air, water, clothing, food and shelter. Not all school attending students present with these basic requirements.  Once these needs are meet, the focus shifts to SAFETY;  personal, financial, health and well being. 
Do we as educators place enough emphasis on this incredibly crucial human right?  
How can students be in the right headspace of learning if they feel threatened or unwell?  Student (and staff) well being underpin success. It is huge. It is understated. It should be given more due. 
A last Maslow mention...and the next stage is? Love and belonging. I think this speaks for itself.

 What do you deem as motivating?

If you can afford yourself 15 minutes, watch this inspirational You tube video of Steve Jobs delivering his commencement speech to the graduates of Stanford University in 2005.

"Vision without action is just a dream; Action without vision is just passing time; Vision with action can change the world." 

-Joel Barker  

It is heartening to see page views increase. What are your views? 
Would you have a minute to leave a comment? Feedback welcome.

  Post "post" link via @pvlies  
The science of motivation, Growth Mindset and Dr Carol Dweck, Professor of psychology at Stanford University.
A reflection by Mrs Lawrence   on a PD (professional development) at Abbotsleigh in Wahroonga, NSW Australia Monday night 22nd August. 


  1. I was gardening with my son this morning and explaining the importance of safety around garden tools, in particular garden shears. I stated I love learning new things. "Me too" Master 4 replied. "Why do think we need to learn, little man" I asked.
    "So we can get practice...and so we don't need our Mummies when we do things" Master 4 explained. So simple, yet true. We learn so that we can become indepedent.

  2. I think it's absolutely fantastic that you're a thinker who loves philosophical questions. Read more about me.

    Motivation intrigues me, too, and have blogged about some ideas over the years. We shall have some interesting conversations.