Daniel Pink gave this twitter sized summary at the end of his thought provoking 2009 book Drive: The Surprising Truth About What Motivates Us. The book focuses upon our developing understanding of motivation and how current practices are ‘outdated, unexamined and rooted more in folklore than in science.’ Pink highlights that human motivation has evolved from primitive forms (survival) to carrot and stick and now to what Pink calls, ‘Type I’, or Type Intrinsic.
Without spending too much time on Carrot and Stick, Pink provides numerous research based examples that highlight the archaic carrot and stick method of motivation, or extrinsic rewards such as bonuses and trophies, method can in the long run have a negative effect on not only motivation, but also creativity.
Pink puts forward his research backed alternative, the ‘Type I’ drive stating that ‘human beings have an innate inner drive to be autonomous, self determined and connected to one another. And when that drive is liberated people achieve more and live richer lives.’ Type I is dependent upon 3 ingredients; autonomy, mastery and purpose. It is from now, in this blog post and beyond that I will have to consider how this will impact, among other aspects, what I plan and deliver at school.
‘Autonomous motivation involves behaving with a full sense of volition and choice’ – Deci and Ryan 2008
Pink goes on to explain that autonomy is different from independence and it means ‘acting with choice – we can be both autonomous and happily interdependent with others.’ Pink also highlights several behavioral science studies that show ‘autonomous motivation promotes greater conceptual understanding, better grades and enhanced persistence in school and sporting activities.’
The PYP gym at AISB is placed between our Early Childhood classrooms and Elementary school. When starting my professional development program at the end of the last academic year, (one of my goals is creating an environment that supports self directed learning, or autonomy among my students in PE) I started to observe some of the Early Childhood classrooms and I noticed a disconnect between what was happening in EC, students moving freely around different stations working on specific tasks at their own pace to a more structured environment within ES. Is this because of the expectations of the curriculum? Are parents and leaders within the schools different? Perhaps it is a reflection of how us, as teachers, ‘manage’ classes to coerce, control or direct learning?
Working within the PYP, an inquiry based curriculum, lends itself to student autonomy well. After initial conversations with fellow PYP PE teachers at AISB, our conceptually driven PE curriculum can also support this. At the end of last year, following on from what I had observed in EC and from a key note speech from Andy Vasily at the ECIS PE conference, during a net/wall games unit we gave students the choice to choose between activities that they’d want to participate in for example Tennis, Table Tennis or Badminton (we are supported in doing this as our timetable enables team teaching). I have tried to take this further, this year allowing students the first 15 minutes of a 80 minute lesson to work on skills that they themselves believe they need to improve. Students can choose who they work with, activity ideas with QR codes support and teachers as needed. Students are accountable for their own learning, which can be shared with the class, the teacher, through an exit ticket or through them developing further questions after the session.
Pink defines mastery as the desire to get better and better at something and as autonomy leads to engagement, this is a natural progression. Pink highlights the work of Csikszentmihalyi, who wrote ‘Flow: The Psychology of Optimal Experience’, which has now been added to my list of books to read. Flow is described as the optimal, most satisfying experiences and for Flow to be effective Csikszentmihalyi states that there must be set structure to the activity. There must be:
● a clear goal
● immediate feedback
● challenge well matched to ability
When designing activities for students, teachers should have them aligned to the learning objective and ensure that they are differentiated to match the class's varying needs of students' abilities; also considering the speeds at which students work or develop can be irregular and unpredictable. The focus upon this stage, for me at least, is immediate feedback. Dylan William talks about the importance of formative assessment and it being the ‘bridge of teaching and learning’ and the differing types of feedback (ego involving or task involving ) and how these affect learning.
These videos were shared during a PYP faculty meeting last year. I have thus been critically reflective upon the feedback I give as I try to ensure feedback is improvement based; leading students to think about the activity and where they are in their own learning (self-assessment) and how they need to do to improve, leading to purposeful practice.
Feedback can also be more powerful when received from a peer, benefiting the person receiving the feedback and also the person giving the feedback, as they need to think through what the success criteria is for an activity and what they need to do to get there. This is something that I have become more aware of when planning learning engagements. Enabling students to become student teachers enables the idea of ‘immediate feedback’ to be a realistic expectation when leading activities or during self-directed/ autonomous learning time.
The final stage of the Type I drive is ‘purpose’, which provides the context for autonomy and mastery. The purpose or role of PE within a school curriculum is widely discussed, particularly by people whose experiences of PE were similar to those shown in the movie, Kes. (Even just look at the description of the video ‘a poignant snapshot of all those PE teachers we had’) PE was perhaps seen as an accessory to the school day, a side note to where the learning took place, in the classroom. Through research, a change of focus and more recently social networks ( most noticeably #physed on twitter), PE teachers are sharing good practice, making PE a relevant component of 21st century education, with a focus upon developing social and emotional skills as opposed to just physical, game specific skills. A PE program ensuring ‘Physical Literacy’ is an outcome and students are able to go beyond school and participate to help others lead active and healthy lifestyles; this must be an aim shared and made explicit with students so PE is relevant to the students and education going forward.