4. A change in educational and social incentives

The role of money and extrinsic motivators as incentives

The following video on motivation at ZDAY 2014 London:

As well as the work of Daniel Pink in his book ‘Drive’ (summarized in the following TED talk):

Show that the profit motive and extrinsic motivators in general, are seemingly not all they are cracked up to be.

With the effect of exponential technological advancement and the subsequent growing capability to create an access abundance, this research outlines how some of the inherent tendencies of the profit motive run in stark contrast to the intentions inherent to the world view that comprises an NLRBE.

Some of these tendencies are portrayed in the following speech by John Ortberg:

The resulting monopolistic collusion culminating in the corporation. The workings of which are outlined in the following documentary:

Whilst it is true that increasing monetary reward does indeed help to create an incentive and increased productivity in laborious, mundane or repetitive labour tasks, it is actually inverse to creating long term intrinsic motivation in tasks that require creativity and the pursuit of mastery, autonomy and purpose.

 Something excellently outlined by Alfie Kohn at his joint event with TZM:

Another incentive mechanism inherent to the market system is competition. Companies must compete with each other to ensure market share, leading to duplication and intrinsic and planned obsolescence in the manufacturing of goods. Which in turn contributes to a hugely wasteful and detrimental effect on the environment.

For more information on this phenomenon please watch the following documentary ‘Pyramids of waste’:

The negative consequences of competition on human health are gone through in the following talk by Matt Berkowitz:

And Alfie Kohn in the following talk and article:


Innovation absent of profit

Many great leaps in innovation throughout history appear to have little foundation in the profit motive, which further contradicts a common perspective found in free market ideology regarding the notion that greater competition and the pursuit of profit is the greatest motivating force for innovation.

The following talk by Ben Mcleish takes a historical perspective to point out why this assertion is deeply flawed:

The fact is that more patents are filed in more financially equal societies, showing that having one eye on your competitor generally means having one less on the task in hand, stifling the creative endevoour:


The problem with the use of carrots and sticks

It should come as no surprise therefore that what is true for the world of work is true for the learning environment as well.

Contrary to popular opinion children do not need the common extrinsic incentives of grades, praise and punishment to actively engage in learning.

Whilst such methods may gain short term results, the long term implications from a plethora of studies show the detrimental effects these tactics are having with regards to instilling an intrinsic, life-long love of learning.

In these studies extrinsic motivators have been shown to do three things consistently with regards to motivation and creative capacity:

  1. Decrease long term intrinsic motivation in the subject or task in question.

This is due to there being no reason for a student to take an interest in the subject in question once the grade or reward on offer has been obtained.

  1. Limit the ability for students to think outside the box, take risks or think creatively regarding potential solutions to a given problem.

This is because to take risks is to compromise the chance of getting a higher grade for the task in question.

  1. To apply only the bare minimum of effort to acquire the grade or reward on offer.

This ties into point one, as once again when the grade on offer has been obtained there is little point to continue to actively pursue the topic further.

These points are summed up in the following talk by James Phillips:

A new perspective on learning

This may be the case, but surely some rules that are still needed to get kids in the classroom in the first place?

What kid is going to want to go to class if no extrinsic motivation or coercive pressure is there to do so?

Apparently these kids do:

Summer Hill – A ‘rule free’ School:

*The following documentary/film is based on the actual attempts of the UK government to shut down Summer Hill:

Although this was a failed attempt by the British government, it casts an intriguing insight into the establishments attitude toward ‘alternative’ educational approaches (in the UK at least).

Given examples such as this, we could perhaps be forgiven for asking if kids need to be in school to learn in the first place?

An example of a method of learning with this idea in mind is Unschooling. Summed up in the following talk by Astra Taylor:

Culture lag and mind lock feeding a fear of change

These educational approaches may seem extreme, but as with all discussions about education we cannot divorce this discussion surrounding education from that of cultural values and socio-economic factors.

Given that our culture is based inherently upon competition, waste, inefficiency and hierarchical dominance it should be entirely expected that the NLRBE and the educational approaches that would be inherent to that model would seem alien from our current cultural reference point. The same could be said of the entire concept of the NLRBE in fact.

However, if people pause and reflect on the growing environmental degradation and growing gap between the rich and poor such a radical, ‘out of the box’ alternative should be entirely expected. Big problems call for big ideas so to speak. By all means proceed with caution but we may not want to take too long as we only have one planet and we are still using it like we have many more.

This video by Bill Hicks sums up where our motivations could lie in the transition to a more peaceful and sustainable world for all:

This general perspective and especially the focus on the positive solutions that science and technology can offer in the resolving of human and environmental problems is something that must be imparted to spark the imagination of the next generation.

In order to effect such a positive change we must start to do so to those who are capable of appreciating this perspective and who have more time ahead of them to deliver it in reality.

With the issues of sustainability and global warming being promoted in Schools, Children provide a captive audience, ready to hear what we have to say.

So please do take the time to visit the ‘Action in Education’ section of this site, and join in this global initiative to go into your local schools and universities to communicate these ideas to future generations.

The purpose of this site is to enable supporters of a natural law resource based economic model (NLRBE) to understand and appreciate the need to approach the education system in an effort to initiate the value shift required for a more peaceful and sustainable future to emerge.