The surprising truth about what motivates us: Autonomy, Mastery, Purpose

My friend Ms. Chili posted the video below a few days ago. I couldn’t believe how appropriate it was for me in my life right now, not only as it pertains to how we, as teachers, deal with our students, but also in how we, as teachers, ought to be treated in our schools and the broader community.

The speaker in the video is Daniel Pink, author of A Whole New Mind: Why Right-Brained Thinkers will rule the Future. This video shares information from his latest book, Drive.

The Project on Incentives in Teaching, conducted in the Nashville Public Schools 2006 through 2009, found that financial rewards for teachers had no impact on student performance. Last week, Roland Fryer, a prominent Harvard economist, published a paper which shared the results of his study of financial incentive programs in the New York Public Schools. Fryer said in his abstract, “I find no evidence that teacher incentives increase student performance, attendance, or graduation, nor do I find any evidence that the incentives change student or teacher behavior. If anything, teacher incentives may decrease student achievement, especially in larger schools.”

Just imagine the possibilities, the rich potential for learning and for dynamic school cultures, if teachers and students instead, were afforded diverse and varied opportunities for autonomy, mastery, and purpose.

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5 Responses to The surprising truth about what motivates us: Autonomy, Mastery, Purpose

  1. This is a valuable concept. I agree though I’m not a classroom teacher but a speech pathologist.. More money wouldn’t motivate me to work any harder. I already do…for the satisfaction and fulfillment my job affords me.

  2. Meryl Jaffe says:

    GREAT post! Thank you. Not only is the message incredible…now what do we think about Wall STreet Bonuses??? BUT, there is a great message about visual/verbal pairing of ‘text’ to teach!

    (I am still on my graphic novel thing…just presented at C2E2).


  3. JEROME BLOOM says:





  4. Enjoy this on popcorn night at negotiations. Hey, that’s almost as good as movie night in my house, and we generally watched animated features as well. Really, I think this should help make our point.

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