Intrinsic Motivation, Inquiry, & 3rd Space

While most of his work focuses on business and employee management strategies, Daniel Pink is one thinker whose ideas about intrinsic motivation are pushing educators to enhance inquiry-based learning opportunities for all learners. His New York Times bestseller Drive offers a more comprehensive overview of motivational influences, but check out this RSAnimate video based on a talk Dan Pink gave to the Royal Society for the Encouragement of the Arts for a basic overview of the book’s findings:

Which is why educators are striving to undertake what we call Third Space curricula. We open inquiries with a learner’s set of interests and strive to overlap the learner’s interests with curricula identified by the teacher as crucial. In many ways, the dichotomy between student-centered learning and teacher-centered learning is rendered false; instead, we transition into the third space, which is learner-centered: students and teachers alike learn throughout the process.

So, how might we teach crucial chemistry and biology skills and content while starting with a group’s interest in bacon? How might we teach facets of literature with by starting with a group’s interest space travel?

It’s possible to maintain one’s sense of intrinsic motivation and maintain a curriculum that is as rigorous (if not more) than a more content-driven environment. The practices and beliefs of those striving for the Third Space make this goal quite attainable.

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