During the last two weeks I have been reading Daniel Pink’s book Drive – yes a paper back book. His analysis of motivation I find easily acceptable and very applicable to our concepts of connectedness. See The Surprising Truth about what motivates us
In particular his concept of motivation being driven by the sheer enjoyment of learning makes so much sense. His link to concepts like learning flow seem so realistic as well.
During our Christmas-New Year holidays it was entrancing to watch our two 4 year old grandsons apply this approach to learning. We were in a house with wireless internet and there were two i-pads so for about a week they had observed adults using both i-pads and laptops to connect to things and places and on occasions they scanned pictures of family members etc or were empowered to watch a movie or video clip.
The learning switch was thrown though when the door was kicked open to the sea of Numeracy and literacy Apps available on i-pads. The initial access and use involved considerable parent or grandparent supervision to ensure they “did the right things”. However this rapidly moved to the 4 year olds adopting learning autonomy as they identified and used “games” as they saw it – all the Apps were means to learn numeracy or literacy skills.
The sight of two 4 year olds concentrating and loving learning every minute for lengthy periods of time was surely an example of Daniel Pink flow. Each of the young learners adopted a process of rewarding themselves for being successful by going to the success collection of badges and stickies. This rewarding process was seen as part of the “game” and not treated as a reason for learning – it was an interesting interlude between games and no thought seemed to be given to getting as many badges as possible.
Our two 4 year olds will never meet the creator of the Apps they used but they enjoyed their learning – I suspect because they had autonomy over the learning process – they chose which “game”, they learned through the games in their own way without adult presence in the room interfering or moving them on to something else.
This autonomy for the learner is surely the greatest gift the connected internet world offers. If 4 year olds with minimal adult assistance can feel autonomous and well motivated surely the possibilities for education of all people at all ages is not only a given but a reality where the internet is accessible.
By autonomy I mean the learner chooses how and when to attack the learning – even if there are boundaries and limits. In New Zealand our self-managing school principals have this sort of autonomy – even though a state school’s funding comes from the government and there are regulations and laws about how schools operate the overall position of autonomy of action is theirs.
In learning as school leaders principals are now able to combine their leadership autonomy with the power of internet and give themselves and their school the benefit of connectedness – remember the 4 year olds and motivation!