by Matt Robinson
Don’t you just love it when an idea drawn from one discipline is tweaked just a bit to apply in another? Recently I encountered two ideas from well-known author and journalist Daniel Pink (and although his focus is not on directly on youth and service-learning, his ideas are applicable. In his books Drive (2009) and A Whole New Mind (2005) Pink lends support and structure for why and how to engage youth in impacting community problems and filling needs while learning content and the skills of 21st Century.
In this space on May 29, Anne Schink posted Re-thinking Volunteer Motivation, which discusses Daniel Pink’s description of motivation and its role in volunteer management. It is an interesting piece that challenges traditional beliefs of volunteer management related to volunteer motivation by drawing on ideas in Pink’s book Drive.
Go back to Anne’s May 29 post and reread the section that discusses the three elements—autonomy, mastery, and purpose—that support internal motivation. Understanding how to use motivation to help others realize their value is essential. But how do you it? Everyone is different and what motivates me may not move you. Service-learning can help.
Because it is so flexible, service-learning is a strategy often adopted by those looking to create opportunities for students to learn while they develop the motivation to act. It is remarkable that creating the conditions that allow those elements—autonomy, mastery, and purpose—to thrive in individuals in volunteer roles are also nurtured in students by skilled service-learning facilitators. As I heard someone say once, “service-learning develops students who care to learn and learn to care.”
Here is the second idea drawn for one place and tweaked—just a bit.
A group I worked with recently while planning a six-week summer program for high school aged youth is applying the elements of internal motivation while using a structure from Pink’s A Whole New Mind: Why Right-Brainers will Rule the Future. As you may have guessed, the book is not about service-learning, but it provides some new ways to think about what we already know about left-brain and right-brain thinking. Pink asserts that the future will place more value on right-brain thinking. He offers “Six Senses” that will be of increasing value in the future:
The Six Senses: Design, Story, Symphony, Empathy, Play and Meaning.
1. Play – Bringing humor and light-heartedness to business and products.
2. Story – Narrative added to products and services – not just argument. Best of the six senses.
3. Empathy – Going beyond logic and engaging emotion and intuition.
4. Design – Moving beyond function to engage the sense.
5. Symphony – Adding invention and big picture thinking (not just detail focus).
6. Meaning – The purpose is the journey, give meaning to life from inside yourself.
The program, supported by a grant from the 21st Century Community Learning Centers, is intentionally designed as an experience integrating disciplines and strategies that use large blocks of time and fluid grouping that more closely resembles summer camp than school. The program is as much about enrichment as it is remediation.
Through service-learning, the six weeks will weave STEM topics, literature analysis, environmental and social stewardship, the arts, field observations and experiments, team building, field trips, guest artists and speakers, to help tease out the “six senses.” Rich learning and service experiences will come from applying Pink’s “six senses” as themes.
The summer is just starting. The students in the summer program will come together soon. But I am already looking forward to how they will adopt ideas from one discipline and apply them to their own context as they care to learn through learning to care. I’ll report back on the accomplishments of these students as their six weeks winds down.