There is also another interesting RSA talk I recently watched called The Surprising Truth About What Motivates Us. It's a talk given by Dan Pink and although it is focused on workplace motivation, I think there are some parallels to a school setting."Creativity is the process of having original ideas that have value. Divergent thinking isn’t a synonym, but it’s an essential capacity for creativity. It’s the ability to see lots of possible answers to a question, lots of possible ways of interpreting a question, to think laterally, to think not just in linear or convergent way. To see multiple answers not just one."
My purpose in Math in Your Feet is to create opportunities for children to develop a level of mastery using the language of percussive dance to solve problems in a creative context. This context is naturally open ended and a place where there is more than one right answer, indeed an infinite number of right answers. My philosophy is to give children limits (defined work space, four and/or eight beats only) and some tools (elements of percussive dance, a clearly defined process) and then let them work it out from there.
"[This study on what motivates people] has been replicated over and over and over again by psychologists, by sociologists, and economists. For simple, straightforward tasks, those kinds of incentives, 'if you do this then you get that,' they are great. For tasks that are an algorithmic set of rules, where you have to get a right answer [emphasis mine] if/then rewards, carrots and sticks – outstanding. But when the task gets more complicated, when it requires some conceptual, creative thinking, those kinds of motivators demonstrably don’t work. […] There are three factors that the science shows that lead to better performance, not to mention personal satisfaction. Autonomy, mastery, purpose."
The students work with a partner. As early as the second day of our residency, students are taking control of their ideas, making choices, collaborating, and creating. During their creative work time, I say over and over, "There are no right or wrong answers, only choices that have to be made. What works, what doesn't work? Decide that and go from there..."