Motivation and PBIS

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The above image is my photo of part of the cover of Daniel Pink’s Drive. At various administrator meetings this spring, we’ve talked about strategies to use in support of increasing student attention and engagement while decreasing disruptive or inappropriate behavior. Some of our schools use PBIS intensely and others to a lesser extent. Some, like my building, inherited a system and have just continued that. As both an administrator and a parent, I’ve had misgivings about the extrinsic motivators in practice both in schools and not. I’m currently reading Daniel Pink’s Drive and finding much to corroborate my feelings about decreasing our reliance on extrinsic motivation and focusing on intrinsic motivation. I’m going to work with my staff to emphasize intrinsic motivation. That’s going to be an area for more thinking throughout the summer.

However, I see extrinsic motivators being promoted in schools and business more generally. Pink references a study by the London School of Economics in 2009 that concluded the financial incentives like merit pay “can result in a negative impact on overall performance.” (Drive, p 39) There are plenty of examples in industry from Enron to Sears where Pink’s comments about extrinsic motivation led to problems. I see many states moving towards pay-for-performance models and I worry. Already, we’ve seen investigations into schools and cheating in Illinois and elsewhere. If there is already instances of schools cheating to make AYP, why does @arneduncan think that Race To The Top will have any other consequence than what those in the LSE study concluded themselves? I hope that those political leaders will look at Pink’s book or the underlying studies about motivation before they introduce revisions to No Child Left Behind or any other legislation for schools.

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