Do you use your educational management power to fight chronic motivational deficiencies and support deeper learning?
Your educational management power is how you affect the policies that guide our education system.
Drop-outs, lack of achievement, and fauxcheivement (going through the motions of achievement without mastering the material) are three major problems that will sooner or later affect at least a half to three-quarters of all K-12 students.
All three are caused by motivational deficiencies.
Motivational deficiencies are not the fault of the children and teachers who are unmotivated.
In the past when people regularly suffered from nutritional deficiencies it was not because they failed to eat good food.
"Good food" by the standards of the day were ususally provided.
But it sometimes turned out to be inadequate, sometimes the food supply lacked a key nutrient.
Nutrients as we understand them today follow from the idea that the universe is made up of atoms and molecules.
Back then that was not how the world was understood, especially not how the health of our bodies was supposed to work.
Their diseases were caused by the failure of their society to ensure that the food made available to those people would meet all their needs.
Back when such failures were common it was simple ignorance about what it was about food that made it nutritious.
The same kind of disconnect is happening right now in education.
We are providing educational opportunities but it turns out that they are inadequate for meeting all of the children's and teacher's motivational needs.
You probably didn't know there was such a thing as a motivational need or deficiency, so let me explain by extending the analogy with nutrition.
The diseases of scurvy, goiter, and rickets are all caused by nutritional deficiencies.
There was a time before we understood the science of nutrition when leaders could have thought, quite understandably, that those diseases were simply normal and inevitable parts of life.
Children afflicted by those diseases were simply unlucky and the leaders were resigned to accepting them as unfortunate facts of life.
After scientists figured out that humans have nutritional needs, and therefore that these diseases were really nutrition problems with straightforward solutions, we took action to ensure that children would not suffer from them any more.
We took action as a society to ensure that children would get their primary nutritional needs met.
We have educated everyone to know that vitamin C occurs naturally in citrus fruits and that we can get enough vitamin D from a moderate amount of sunlight.
We even "fortify" foods that don't normally have these vitamins and minerals to make sure appropriate nutrition is more readily available, such as putting iodine in salt and vitamin D in milk.
Fighting nutritional deficiencies meant we adjusted our behavior and we changed our fundamental concepts about the role of food in our lives.
Eating just any food is no longer good enough, we now have the concept of a "balanced diet."
We all know that if we don't eat the right foods containing the right nutrients, we will not be healthy.
Right now we have educational management systems that accept motivational deficiencies and the suffering they cause in children and teachers as normal, some might even say inevitable.
But scientists have discovered how to prevent motivational deficiencies by providing support for the primary psychological needs of competence, relatedness, and autonomy.
In the same way that many people in the past suffered for our systematic ignorance of our nutritional needs for iodine, and vitamins C and D; many people in schools today, especially children, are suffering for our systematic ignorance of the motivational needs for competence, relatedness, and autonomy.
We need to break down the barriers to school policies and teaching practices that are supportive of these primary psychological needs so that we can prevent motivational deficiencies and the suffering they cause.
We also need a concept of education that includes the fact that not just any motivational scheme will do, we need a balanced approach to motivating people in educational settings.
We need to know that a proper education consists of a variety of experiences that all contain elements of support for autonomy, competence, and relatedness.
If we neglect any one or more of them, we will diminish the educative value of the experiences that the students and teachers will have.
Changing Educational Management
Legislative approaches to systemic educational management reform have been mostly ineffective to date because they neglect to account for the primary psychological needs of the people who make up the school system.
Policies at all levels have caused administrators and teachers responsible for the day-to-day care of children to neglect the primary psychological needs of those they manage.
The most fundamental problem in K-12 schooling is the pervasive systemic reinforcement of policies and practices that neglect or thwart psychological needs.
Long established policies and practices prevent people in the system from supporting the psychological needs of other people (including children.)
That consistent systematic pattern of the diminishment of need supports causes the widespread motivational deficiencies that are observed in schools.
One primary piece of evidence is that scientific studies over the past 40 years have consistently shown declining intrinsic motivation across all different types of K-12 schools (private, public, & charter).
My forthcoming book, A Disastrous Intuition: How An Insidious Anti-Learning Idea Infiltrates K-12 Policy And What To Do About It explores one key piece of legislation (The Reading First Initiative with No Child Left Behind) and how it contributed to motivational deficiencies.
It is not enough to be against the bad things; the key to positive lasting change is to have a good pattern to replace the bad.
This where deeper learning comes in.
Most of what is touted as key to achieving deeper learning turns out to be policies and practices that support primary human needs.
Motivational deficiencies are exacting a terrible cost on both individuals and society, but the best strategy for fighting them is to do a better job of making deeper learning a new norm in schools.
Please join me in raising awareness of this problem and reforming educational management in schools to ensure that teachers and children will have their primary psychological needs met through nurturing educational policy.
By joining Schools of Conscience you can help me ensure that nurturing policies are incorporated into schools at every level along with need supporting educational management practices.