Sunday, February 7, 2010

Thoughts on Purpose...

Purpose is the final element of motivation that Pink describes in his book, Drive. Pink shares that a large number of baby boomers are turning 60. When people hit the "Big -0" birthdays, people tend to reflect on their life and think about whether or not they have met the goals they had set for themselves. This is where purpose comes into play. People that are most satisfied and task oriented, are also very motivated people, have usually connected their "purpose" in life to be something bigger than just making themselves happy. As people in education, we have clearly defined our purpose to be something more than just about ourselves. Can adolescents see their purpose as something more than just themselves? I think at times some do, but as Erin stated the last post, many of these skills needed to attain motivation are very adultlike, for people who have the use of a fully developed brain, not our teens who have brains that are unable to reason and make sound decisions.
There has been research done that shows if goals are solely revolving around ideas that do not contribute to the greater good and that have no impact on well-being can actually contribute to ill-being. Scientists that Pink quoted state that "rich, well off, people may reach goals to have a great deal of wealth and spend all of their time figuring out ways to make more money, are not truly content as there has been less room in their lives for love and attention to those that really count." Profit cannot always be the end all, be all. The purpose is what provides the motivation to burn the midnight oil just as much or more that the amount of money you will earn by completing a task.
The "if-then" rewards (carrot and stick rewards) can be ineffective in many situations. These rewards can have a negative effect on creativity the ability to think conceptually which are most important for the progress of our world socially and globally. The author continues to describe the discrepancy between what science knows and what business does. Is there a connection here to education?
The author states that as adults we can look to children when it comes to the elements of autonomy and mastery, but when it comes to purpose, it is harder to see the big picture, and to realize that one day we will no longer be here, and that attaining some of the gaols we think we are supposed to have may not be important after all. I love this last paragraph:
"We know that human beings are not merely smaller, slower, better smelling horses galloping
after the day's carrot. We know--if we've spent time with young children or remember
ourselves at our best--that we're not destined to be passive and compliant. We're designed
to be active and engaged. And we know that the richest experiences in our lives aren't when
we're clamoring for validation from others, but when we're listening our own voice--doing
something that matters, doing it well, and doing it in the service of a cause larger than

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