Five ways to get kids to want to read and write is an excerpt from my book, Self-Driven Learning, that was published by the Washington Post this morning.

There wasn’t room for the short introduction to the excerpt that I wrote, so I’ll publish it here instead:

Sir Ken Robinson has said:

“Farmers and gardeners know you cannot make a plant grow….The plant grows itself. What you do is provide the conditions for growth. And great farmers know what the conditions are and bad ones don’t. Great teachers know what the conditions for growth are…”

Unfortunately, we teachers might often feel pressured to believe that the best “conditions for growth” include treating students as “vessels to be filled,” giving and taking away “points,”  or using other types of punishments and rewards (eerily similar to how some “school reformers” want to treat educators themselves).

The word intrinsic comes from the Latin intrinsecus, which is a combination of two Latin words meaning “within” and “alongside.” All our students are intrinsically motivated—it just might not always be for doing what we want them to do. Our challenge is to work alongside our students and learn what their “self-interests” —  goals, desires, dreams — might be and develop the trusting relationships needed to guide, extend, and expand them.

My new book, Self-Driven Learning: Teaching Strategies for Student Motivation, which is excerpted here and is a sequel to my earlier book,  Helping Students Motivate Themselves, provides research and practice-based strategies and lesson plans that can help teachers begin to help provide fertile soil for the right growth conditions….