Autonomy, Mastery, Purpose

May 8, 2010 at 11:34 am | Posted in Uncategorized | 1 Comment

Two months ago I read Daniel Pink’s Drive. In his book, Pink focuses on 3 elements that drive us and allow us to create fulfilling life experiences: Autonomy, Mastery and Purpose. And not only do these ideas arise in Pink’s book, he focuses on and discusses them so clearly, but since then I have seen some or all of these aspects discussed as necessary for a quality life in several other books. They also arise in conversations, articles and blog posts.  When an awareness surfaces it can stay there and open up deeper connections each day.
When I think about it personally, my most meaningful experiences and deepest desires in life have centered on one or more of these aspects of action:
Autonomy: I have almost always wanted to “do it myself” or learn by doing because I gain a deeper understanding and pride in what I have learned. This doesn’t mean learning independently- just being able to have a hand in what I am learning.

Mastery: I am passionate about anything related to the three most important roles in my life as a parent, teacher and lifelong learner and I am continually learning through reading, thinking, trying, experiencing and reflecting.  Ironically, I’ve never thought it possible to master any of those roles, but the pursuit of mastery is what makes them so rewarding and interesting.

Purpose: It’s that question of “why?” that helps me persevere during challenging times, find the means to solve a problem or motivate a learner and also act based on essential beliefs and values. I’m currently rereading Man’s Search for  Meaning by Viktor Frankl and he discusses the necessity of not just purpose but a meaningful, rewarding purpose.

Now that I have autonomy, mastery and purpose always in the back of my mind personally, I am focusing on them and reflecting in these areas currently as a tech integration specialist and in planning for my classroom next year. Building a sense of ownership, meaning and mastery for the learners in my classroom will be the litmus test for creating and maintaining my classroom. Marco Torres talks about focusing on the verbs, not the nouns. But when viewed as qualities, autonomy, mastery and purpose can be the nouns we focus on that lead to the verbs we manifest in our lives and classrooms.

As a tech integration specialist I am surprisingly never asked “why” should we try to integrate technology into our classrooms. Perhaps colleagues think it would be too rude or direct. But I’ve always answered it this way when I have been asked. Generally, I’ve noticed that it is attractive and motivating for all students, particularly the reluctant learners, and it allows us all to learn in ways never available before.  One specific example is that I really became excited about podcasting as a third grade teacher when one challenging, reluctant student who hated writing began asking to stay in at recess to finish writing a piece he wanted to podcast and post on our blog. Publishing his writing as an audio file gave him a meaningful audience (not limited to the teacher and classmates) and motivated him to work towards mastery and own his writing and ideas.

Please share how you create ownership, meaning and mastery in your classroom or school…


1 Comment »

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  1. Hello Nancy!

    I like your post! It reflects many of the ideas I’ve got about life and about teaching.
    I foster autonomy by integrating technology in the classroom too!
    You can read my viewpoints in my blog:
    Marisa Pavan

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