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Teacher Motivation, Merit Pay, and Dan Pink’s Video

February 5, 2012

I think everyone should take the ten minutes needed to watch this fascinating little YouTube Video by Dan Pink.

Mr. Pink (I still think of Tarantino‘s Film Reservoir Dogs when I write that name) provides us with some very interesting insight into what motivates people.  I am looking at this video through the lens of a teacher, and through the additional lens of a teacher who keeps reading about the push for merit pay.

My personal opinion about merit pay is that it will divide a teaching staff, maybe critically so.  We as teachers share what works with our students almost daily, in other words, we collaborate.  If teachers were jockeying for merit pay this collaboration would not occur.  At the two minute point in this video Mr. Pink talks about how incentivizing performance works for mechanical tasks, like a production line.  But, when any work requiring cognitive skills was added to the mix, performance went down.

We as teachers are working on cognitive tasks daily.  The video goes on to talk about the three motivators that actually work with jobs where you need to think and have complicated tasks and teaching is one of those jobs.  Autonomy, Mastery, and Purpose, watch the video to see his explanation.  This is really fascinating stuff (to me at least).  Enjoy.




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