Reads, Resources, and Reviews

Reading and natural curiosity are two of the cornerstones of life-long learning. At SUPES, we are committed to both individual and group development and practicing what Peter Senge describes as the principles of a learning organization. This segment of our web presence is designed to foster team learning, starting with dialogue, suspending our assumptions, and entering into genuine thinking together. (The Fifth Discipline)

Here, we will provide book reviews, updates/perspectives on educational research, and discussions on other important information that impacts school leaders. As this is designed to elicit responses, please send any comments to [email protected]. We will share our collective thoughts.

Let’s begin our conversations:

Essential Questions: What truly motivates people and how do we leverage this information throughout of educational system for staff, parents, students, and others?

Book Review #1: Drive by Daniel Pink

All professionals in the educational system have to consider how to motivate their people. Teachers assess their students’ levels of motivation while administrators consider the dedication and work ethic of their faculty. As leaders, however, we rarely study motivation and how this impacts our work (and our home life for that matter). In Drive, Daniel Pink shares some great insights into high performance and job satisfaction. Many of the findings will seem contrary to much of what we thought we knew about people and systems. With decades of scientific research behind his findings, Pink demonstrates that the traditional ‘carrot and stick’ approach is not ideal to motivate the modern worker.  “The problem with making an extrinsic reward the only destination that matters is that some people will choose the quickest route there, even if it means taking the low road. Indeed, most of the scandals and misbehavior that have seemed endemic to modern life involve shortcuts.” Unfortunately, we have many examples of this mentality in educational systems throughout the country.

Armed with statistics, like 70% of job growth is heuristic (a task that has no algorithm, but demands experimentation and novel solutions), the conversation shifts to developing intrinsic motivation and creativity both of which are enhanced with autonomy. Our current circumstances in education seem to be restricting the autonomy (or perceived control) of both students and staff. “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.” Where in our systems do we encourage this behavior? While as educators we may understand the importance of higher causes more than some businesses, are we really leveraging these altruistic beliefs and empowering people to make decisions in this manner?

When Daniel Pink reflected on experiments with monkeys he commented on the findings. “The monkeys solved the puzzle simply because they found it gratifying to solve puzzles. They enjoyed it. The joy of the task was its own reward.” Are current accountability systems and personal leadership behaviors helping to emphasize the joy of task completion or to punish certain results?

Drive is a truly worthy read for all educators. It will provide great perspective (with scientific basis), demonstrate a need to change, and offer suggestions to those willing to grow!

I welcome any comments, questions and critiques.