Purpose or Mastery?

I finally got around to watching Dan Pink’s YouTube Video about Drive,

I can’t say that I was too surprised about the science in this video, for the past few years education has moved from incentives to a place of rewarding behaviour. However, I feel that our current schooling system could benefit from applying these views to our education.

Currently, the incentive we are offered is pride – better test scores = our monetary reward. However, what about mastery? Honestly, I am far more motivated to complete my Masters in Education and implement ideas that I control and can master on my own time than those that the division or government are fishing in front of my face. I am assuming our students are the same way.

Grades are not a high motivator unless we make them one. This is a huge shift that I have seen not only in education but also in my own students – “I want to learn how to answer this question” as opposed to “Why didn’t I get 100% on this question”. So why aren’t we changing our education to fit these values.

Purpose, mastery and autonomy are far more important than incentive. People want challenge, mastery and the chance to make a contribution to the world – so we need to offer our students these challenges. Currently, I am attempting to develop a program where my students are able to explore Physics in their own world and apply it to their lives, but I want them to make a difference in this community – beyond the classroom.

Now, I understand that educators need to be prepared to de-program their students of the ‘grades’ way of thinking – but it takes less time than you would think, and once students have the chance to feel like they are in charge of their own learning – they dive in much deeper than I ever ask them to.


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