Book Review – Drive: The Surprising Truth About What Motivates Us by Daniel Pink


I really enjoyed Daniel Pink’s  book, A Whole New Mind, and his most recent book, Drive: The Surprising Truth About What Motivates Us, was equally interesting and applicable to all middle level educators.  His premise (and this will be no surprise to those schooled in middle level philosophy) is that humans need three things to experience motivation in any aspect of their lives:

  1. Autonomy – the ability to have some control over one’s life,
  2. Mastery – getting better at something that matters, and
  3. Purpose – knowing that what one is doing is of service to someone or something.

One of the most interesting parts of this book was on accountability.  Pink squashed the idea that one needs to test, provide incentives and punishments, and heavily supervise people to get them to perform. And, in fact, those things stifle creativity, productivity and motivation.  He maintains, and relates examples, that if people are provided autonomy, mastery and purpose, they will be happier and more productive.

As I listened to this book (I can get more out of non-fiction by listening to an audiobook) I felt like I was in a session of Best Practices in Middle Level Education 101. I started reflecting on what our schools would be like if teachers were given autonomy, mastery and purpose. Aren’t those three concepts central to best middle level practices?  I also thought about where we are in evaluating schools. Does testing really make students learn better and teachers teach better? Is the “big stick” mentality helping us motivate our students, or ourselves? Isn’t it interesting that the business world is FINALLY starting to embrace tried and true Middle Level  concepts, as well? As usual, the middle is leading the way!

If you want to learn more, check out Daniel Pink’s website by clicking here. Please join the conversation by clicking on “make a comment” below.


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