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Mike Fleetham Mike's Thinking Classroom Blog


On Values and Motivation

Why bother? I'd much rather have that from a pupil in class than blank-eyed compliance. At least why bother provides evidence of motivation and a motive fuelling the question. At least there's a gear to be engaged.

My good and wise friend Julian recently shared a great framework for quickly examining learning motives. Based on the theory of spiral dynamics, it categorises types of motive by colour. We're all an evolving mix of preferences and potential but if we can identify pupils' motives from this spectrum, maybe we can hook them into learning more effectively. Here they are:

Beige motive: survival, likely that home isn’t safe/nice and school provides a relief – possibly not the best place to learn from but try to offer security, consistency and very basic rules.

Purple motive: to work alongside like-minded people so we all succeed and respect those we see as superior ie the teacher (healthy), or the class/group troublemaker (unhealthy).

Red motive: to be the ‘winner’, to lead the class to gain instant gratification by coming top in lesson (healthy) or causing trouble and being noticed at all costs (unhealthy). 

Blue motive: to make our group/class/house/school the best it can be (healthy) and make sure other inferior groups know (unhealthy).

Orange motive: to achieve my long term goal which sees me as successful for my own gain, strategic, deferred gratification. 

Green motive: to facilitate & make sure all in class have same chance, and we all can grow together. 

Yellow motive: aware of all of the above in self and others and wants to ensure it can work in harmony so as to achieve personal success.

Best not to label and limit pupils or colleagues to any one of these areas - see folks as growing through the different colours but never loosing the potential to be motivated by a stages they've left. Helpful? Let me know!

Posted in: Mindset/Skillset
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