Students at City Neighbors Charter School working together.

Students at City Neighbors Charter School working together.

Progressive Education Value #7 – Intrinsic Motivation

#7.  Intrinsic motivation: When considering (or reconsidering) educational policies and practices, the first question that progressive educators are likely to ask is, “What’s the effect on students’ interest in learning, their desire to continue reading, thinking, and questioning?” This deceptively simple test helps to determine what students will and won’t be asked to do. Thus, conventional practices, including homework, grades, and tests, prove difficult to justify for anyone who is serious about promoting long-term dispositions rather than just improving short-term skills.

And so, we continue with the countdown to the Summit.  Above is progressive value #7  taken from  the writings of our keynote speaker, Alfie KohnProgressive Education, Why It’s Hard to Beat, But Also Hard to Find (published in INDEPENDENT SCHOOL, Spring 2008).

What do you thnk?  Is it the work of schools to build intrinsic motivation?  And if it is, then what are the implications for our practice?  I wonder what would happen if the government decided to test every grade for intrinsic motivation, would we break it down to little pieces and teach it K – 12?

I recently finished reading a great book that addresses motivation: Daniel H. Pink says in, Drive: The Surprising Truth About What Motivates Us, that the secret to high performance and satisfaction in school is the deeply human need to direct our own lives, to learn and create new things, and to do better by ourselves and our world.  What would school look like if we built our schools and classrooms based on that belief?

Don’t forget to register for the 3rd Annual Progressive Education Summit .  The Summit gives us the opportunity to delve into our practices, to study together all those essential questions, and to share our work.  Hope to see you there!