Thursday, April 22, 2010

Drive - Self-directedness, Mastery and Purpose

I've just reached Daniel's Pink book Drive toolkit, more like a catalyst to fuel our own drives.

To wrap up the idea of the book, I can't imagine a better way than relating it with my own context. I was thinking of my drive to exercise, for example. For many years, I've been exercising, on and off. Sometimes I feel more motivated, eager to get to they gym, sometimes less. Though I've always considered it important for my well-being, controlling weight, etc, these purposes haven't really been my true drive. First, I' say that I always liked the choice to decide which activity to do first, which I'd keep out of my training that day. This directly relates to autonomy. Even with some guidelines and a paper to let me know which equipments I should be using, I could decide the order, and even the variation. I think the trainers at the gym wouldn't agree with me, for I should follow a routine, but I confess it, I never did it that way! Another drive for me to exercise has always been for me to test my limits, to keep improving my performance, to understand how I can do things better and more efficiently, to be challenged by the next level. Mastery in its essence here. Then,  we get back to purpose. As I mentioned, the factors that might be the ones that could motivate to keep exercising were not the ones that apparently are the ones people talk about. Through this reading journey, I realized the my purposes were different at different moments of my life. For example, some years ago, the core purpose of going to the gym was the socialization part. I belonged to a group who was dear to me, who cared for one another, who had true fun together. Happiness and great laughs at their best.That was my drive,  being there with that group kept me alive, happy, and motivated to keep exercising.

And now? Not a group at all. I changed gyms, and don't interact much there. What keeps me going? Again, not the commonplace reasons. I've realized that my main drive, the purpose of all that is that I have some time for myself, to read whatever I want, to think through my life, to enjoy just being a bit by myself without paying attention to the tensions of our daily lives, it is an enjoyable moment of introspection.

So, we get back to what really drives us and our students. Are the apparent purposes that we insist on pointing out to our students, the ones that are the true drives for them? When we tell them that they should study because it is good for their future or their future work (that might mean a decade from now!), are we encouraging them to study or totally discouraging them? How can we tap into their inner drives and change our learning environment?


  1. I enjoyed your post. I also finished reading Drive & found more questions than answers... I teach Spanish and because it takes so much time to develop mastery in this class, I find my students loose drive after the first year & those who stick with it, start reaping the benefits of their hard work by the end of year 3 or 4. The question then is how to encourage them to work on the language and be patient with themselves in a culture of NOW and instant results? Ideas?

  2. Dear Sherry, I know exactly what you mean. It is hard to break this culture of instant results and NOW. However, from what I saw on your blog, you're already doing what's within your reach to tap into students' interests. Working, for example, on international projects is certainly one way for students to clearly visualize why they are studying Spanish. Giving them tasks that relate to themselves is also another way. Ongoing self-assessment of their performance can lead to their sense of accomplishment that might raise their interest in the language. I guess there are no formulas, but if we, as educators, do our part, I'm sure we'll reach at least some of our students in meaningful and powerful ways.

  3. Dear Carla.
    You know I love and follow your blog closely. This is to let you know that I mentioned your site for the prize - or blog chaining - as one of my 10 recommended blogs. This is part of an initiative called "Vale a pena ficar de olho nesse blog". The chosen blog has to copy the picture, with a link to the blog from which it has received the award . Then write ten more links to the blogs which are well worth a visit. You may check it out at
    Claudio Azevedo

  4. Dear Claudio,

    What a great honor coming from a popular blogger like you! I'm still amazed by the number of videos and activities you post! what a wonderful, generous contribution to our educational community.Thanks!


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