Saturday, September 3, 2011


What makes us do the things we do as teachers? Do we call it opportunity, responsibility, or motivation? Countless books, articles, and news reports look at the education system and question where the problem is with motivating students. Well, what about the teacher? We could argue that if we take away our passion for teaching, we in effect take motivation away from our students, too. Forced deadlines for units of study, scripted programs, and off-the-shelf “boxed” curricula leave little room for creativity. Teachers, like students, need to feel empowered to make choices to engage their learners in a more meaningful way.

Perhaps it is Daniel Pink’s latest book Drive: The Surprising Truth About What Motivates Us and the subsequent referrals in a host of publications that prompted this post. For Pink, motivation is driven by mastery, autonomy and purpose (MAP). The power of incentives comes from within, which he calls intrinsic motivation, and not from extrinsic motivation, built around rewards. Guy Kawasaki, too, talks about these same ideas in his book, Enchantment: The Art of Changing Hearts, Minds and Actions. He refers to Pink’s MAP and the art of "enchanting down" in a work environment. If you have an enchanted employee, that employee radiates enjoyment and passion to the customer. Think about how this applies to education. If we had more enchanted teachers, wouldn't we have more enchanted learners?

As for the ASIDE blog, it grew out of our desire to infuse curriculum with new approaches to teaching and thinking through innovation design in education. Essentially, we were motivated by the idea that teachers, as well as students, could be motivated to “map” the way to change. Our drive for mastery, autonomy, and purpose reflect a similar drive for motivating teaching and learning. When teachers and students both share in designing the learning, they are motivated to take responsibility, seek opportunity, and desire more.


  1. Truly interesting ideas. It comes at a time in education where pressure to be accountable can easily misguide teachers into scripted or rote practices. It is a critical time to remember the meaning behind what we do.

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