Still on Drive

Daniel Pink states “Greatness and nearsightedeness are incompatible”. He was making a point that in many cases, a carrots and sticks system leads to a short-sighted view of the world. People start focusing more on the rewards than in a broader sense of reality. You are into that addictive cycle of getting something back than seeing things in a longer-term perspective. He even argues that depending on the kind of reward, unethical behavior might happen just for the short-term benefits of getting whatever was promised. Coincidentally, I just read Stephen Krashen’s argument against the Accelerated Readers in the US. My son was part of the program, and I can tell you that the rewards the kids get from reading certain books are not what tick them to read more and better. Stephen mentions McLoyd’s study in 1979 that proved exactly that. The scientist had three groups of kids. One group would get a reward for reading and they knew what that would be, the other would get a smaller compensation for reading, and the third group was the no-reward one. Guess which group read more?

I see my kids reading more and more for sheer pleasure, they move forward because of their inner pleasure of reading, not because they will be paid, will get more candies or toys if they read three books a month. They do things at home not because of any allowance, but because they understand that this is to do good to the collective.

Daniel Pink’s book is still in accordance to my own beliefs and it makes me understand better my own drives. I’m moved by this third drive, one of passion, of the feeling I’m doing the right thing, expanding my own horizons, seeking a life of meaning in a conceptual age. That’s why the volunteer work I do is so pleasing, that’s why I crave for every new learning opportunity. When I think of the job I do, that’s why I’ve changed from a high-paying job to one that fulfills my need of moving forward, working on exciting projects, dealing with interesting people, different tribes who add to who I am.

What does it take for a business to enhance its professionals’ motivation to perform better, to be more efficient, to be happy? What does all this motivation concepts tell us about our classes and learners?

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Related post: http://collablogatorium.blogspot.com/2010/03/our-drives.html

4 Comments

  1. Carla Arena April 7, 2010 at 01:08 #

    This is one aspect Daniel Pink talks about. He mentions that studies have pointed out that this can take an undesirable effect of having the group involved in the pay-per-performance improve their statitistics in the beginning, but then, performing poorly. This is exactly the short-sighted view he is talking about and is critical about.

    Also, he mentions addiction. Once you get some kind of extrinsic reward, you’ll always want more, and think that what was first a reward is not extra, but, in fact, a right you have. Then, you ask for more and it becomes a totally vicious cycle.

  2. Pat Faustino April 7, 2010 at 03:08 #

    There are many studies about the drawbacks of rewards, so once more I am convinced that this is not the way for education. Not for the teacher, as a tool for better performance in any way.

  3. Carla Arena April 8, 2010 at 14:31 #

    Pat, today I kept reading Daniel Pink, and he mentions that rewards can be positive if they are offered after a situation of success happened, changing the focus from “if-then” to “now-that”. This kind of reward might work. However, he points out that still, the most effective reward for the kind of creative, heuristic job we do is praise, positive feedback. Don’t we feel rewarded when we are recognized for our hard work and dedication? Doesn’t it have long-lasting effects? Doesn’t it spark our senses and make us move forward?

  4. Carla Arena April 9, 2010 at 02:24 #

    Bee, interesting you mentioned The Comment Challenge because I participated and even won one of the prizes! I can see your point, but let me say that my motivation, my drive was simply to be in a community, sharing experiences and learning how to better connect to others. It was not the external rewards what really attracted me. Funny thing, I never got the US$ 100.00 they sent me!

    In the specific case of the comment challenge, I don’t think people did what they did for the reward. I guess what we gained from that was worth much more than the “prizes” and the skills, knowledge we gained from it had a lasting effect, which is in the opposite direction from what Daniel Pink is saying. It might be that people there were mostly intrinsically motivated, so here it would be what Pink considers the Third Drive.

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