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Every Day I Discover How Little I Know — Here’s Another Example


I periodically post about examples of my own ignorance, and now have another opportunity to do so….

As a self-styled quasi-expert on intrinsic motivation (see my book “Helping Students Motivate Themselves” and my list, The Best Posts & Articles On “Motivating” Students), one would think that I’d be pretty familiar with research on the topic. And I am, or, at least, I thought I was.

Then, in this week’s New Yorker Magazine, I read a profile of Clayton Christensen, a widely-known business thinker who, among other things, has written a lot on motivation issues. Coincidentally, he himself wrote a short commentary on intrinsic motivation today for Fast Company.

In it, he refers to a well-known article written by Frederick Herzberg for the Harvard Business Review that is the most reprinted article they have ever published, and it’s about intrinsic motivation. Christensen summarizes it in his piece:

So, what are the factors that will cause us to love our jobs? These are what Herzberg’s research calls motivators. Motivation factors include challenging work, recognition, responsibility, and personal growth. Motivation is much less about external prodding or stimulation, and much more about what’s inside of you and inside of your work.

These are very similar to the points Daniel Pink makes about what “drives” us.

Until this weekend, I had never heard of Christensen or Herzberg.

I have a lot to learn….

Author: Larry Ferlazzo

I'm a high school teacher in Sacramento, CA.


  1. It’s kind of amazing to me that I can say I love my job as a 1st year high-school teacher when it’s such a hard job (getting up early, constantly being “on,” relentless lesson prep). But Herzberg’s ideas strike a chord with me when he says that challenging work and personal growth are key to high motivation.

    I think that a job with a huge amount of people dynamics, such as teaching, particularly enhances the “personal growth” element.

  2. I have read Daniel Pink’s book, Drive, and it is really an eye-opener 🙂

    Yes, i think one of the best gifts in life is learning something new every day. Even experts don’t know everything. The beauty of the internet is we get to share what we learn. Everyone wins as a result of the new learnings.

  3. I think more teachers need to say this to their students. Kids need to hear that even the “experts” still don’t know everything. They also need to see how excited the experts are to keep learning — even after they’ve left school and become the experts!

    This could really help with the goal of creating more life-long learners.

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