Drive by Daniel Pink

Drive by Daniel Pink is a best-selling book that offers transformative lessons for CTE professionals. In it, Pink points out that there are three types of human motivation. The first type, which he calls Motivation 1.0, is our drive to meet our biological needs for food, water, shelter, and reproduction. The second type, which he calls Motivation 2.0, is the carrot-and-stick motivation common in schools and workplaces, in which extrinsic (outside the individual) rewards and punishments steer people in a certain direction. In other words, work harder and receive a better reward. However, Pink introduces a third drive – Motivation 3.0 – which is the intrinsic (internal to the individual) desire to do work that gives the worker a sense of satisfaction. In other words, work that is its own reward. This third drive is more powerful than we may realize, and it has implications for how we teach career tech. 

Daniel Pink presents compelling research which shows that Motivation 2.0-type extrinsic rewards and punishments (e.g., bonuses, top grades, and trophies) aren’t nearly as effective as we have been led to believe. It is true that for certain types of tasks – routine, algorithmic, assembly line-type tasks – extrinsic rewards can be useful. But much of our work in the 21st century is more creative and complex. Consider the work of a modern engineer or information technologist. This work is not routine; it is ever-changing and complex, requiring creativity and deep thinking. With these types of tasks, research has shown that extrinsic rewards can actually diminish performance and reduce creativity! External rewards encourage people to think with “blinders” on, focused more on the short-term reward and unable to see the broader picture where creative solutions lie. In CTE, many of us wrestle with how to teach our students to engage in problem-solving and design-based thinking. In Drive, Daniel Pink encourages us to look outside grades and rewards, to help students tap into their intrinsic motivation to discover and create. 

Motivation 3.0 is fueled by the inherent satisfaction of a task. I think that this type of motivation is particularly available to the career tech student who loves to work with their hands and solve novel, real-world problems. Pink offers three elements that are necessary for intrinsic motivation. The first is autonomy. People naturally want to self-direct. When educators offer students increased autonomy, their creativity and enjoyment can soar. The second element of Motivation 3.0 is mastery; that is, becoming very good at something that is personally meaningful. To help students gain mastery of a task, educators might present learning opportunities that are in line with students’ current abilities; that is, challenging, but not too hard for them to achieve. Finally, intrinsic motivation has the element of purpose. Students naturally want to feel that their work is meaningful. Work is not only about earning money; it is about contributing to something larger than oneself. Make sure students see the real-world significance of the trade they are learning.

I recommend you pick up a copy of Drive and use your reading of it to reflect on the motivators and experiences you build into your courses.