Laura's Reviews > Drive: The Surprising Truth About What Motivates Us

Drive by Daniel H. Pink
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's review
Mar 22, 12

bookshelves: non-fiction, adult
Read in July, 2010

The truth about what motivates us isn't really all that surprising... what's surprising to me is that our institutions, especially schools, are still clinging to the idea that people are basically lazy blobs who need to be prodded to do anything mentally stimulating. Pink argues that intrinsic motivation -- our desire to be challenged and use our brains -- is a very powerful drive that can be harnessed to create better workers and students. Unfortunately, this drive is largely ignored by teachers and managers.

The author briefly mentions the dangers of using extrinsic rewards to motivate children during summer reading programs and in the classroom. Pink says that if-then rewards and punishments can actually reduce motivation and encourage unethical behavior. (Try getting a kid to take out the trash for free after you've paid them to do it once...) He repeats throughout the book that what science understands about behavior and motivation, namely that we have an innate desire to be challenged, doesn't match with what businesses and schools do to motivate people. Very interesting ideas, though putting it into practice would take changing the foundation of most institutions. I recommend this book to anyone who doesn't mind being depressed about how, once again, our society fails miserably.
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