March 27, 2009

We all possess a fundamental desire for validation: to find one’s place within the society to which one belongs and to learn its methods, beliefs and rituals. We are a social animal and socialization is a primary human necessity. It is a natural human impulse to educate our young to uphold the structures that maintain the existent social mores.

In parallel, there exists the individual impulse towards personal and spiritual development and creative expression. I believe these two urges provide a dialectical tension necessary to a healthy society that requires both stability and change.

School is a system of normalization regulated by a power hierarchy operated through the grading system whose aim is to maintain the status quo.

It is a system of external regulation that offers security, acceptance and success within that system to those who comply. It discourages questioning of the system and tends to diminish intrinsic motivation and creativity (Deci and Ryan).

While intrinsic motivation leads to personal growth and spiritual development and develops creativity and also greater engagement and effort .

Types of Motivation (see Deci & Ryan)

External: Rewards, Punishment, (grades)
Introjected: Want to look good, Think you ought to, Self gratification / punishment, Perceived Need (to get a good job)
Intrinsic:  Enjoyment, Interest, Satisfaction

Research shows that white, male, power-oriented individuals find grades motivating, for the rest they kill intrinsic motivation.

Is it possible to foster intrinsic motivation within a regulatory system?

Response: “I don’t give a shit about your philosophy; I’m here to master skills to pass the exam and get a good job.”

Perhaps it is a question of perspective: me, with ideals as an educator working within a Swiss system of training am out of place?

However, changing social needs require a more creative perspective. Everything I read and everyone I talk to within companies say the same: what we need are independent, flexibility, creative individuals capable of adapting transcending traditional subject area boundaries, constantly learning and with strong communication skills and it is clear that these qualities, processes of thought, attitudes and behaviours are not encouraged by a system of external regulation.



March 26, 2009

“I tell you that I have a long way to go before I am – where one begins…

You are so young, so before all beginning, and I want to beg you as much as I can, to be patient toward all that is unsolved in your heart and to try to love the questions themselves like locked rooms and like books that are written in a very foreign tongue. Do not now seek the answers, which cannot be given you because you would not be able to live them. And the point is, to live everything. Live the questions now. Perhaps you will then gradually, without noticing it, live along some distant day into the answer.

Resolve to be always beginning – to be a beginner!”

Rainer Maria Rilke