Tuesday, April 19, 2011

Response to Daniel Pink TED Talk

            This last talk that I and my classmates reviewed was spoken by a renowned author by the name of Daniel Pink. This talk was probably the most interesting of the three so far, because Daniel Pink has become a crucial figure in the learning of our high school's English class due to our reading of A Whole New Mind. This book is very interesting and has to do with right-brained thinking flourishing more than ever before, and it has lead to some amazing thoughts and deep discussions.

             Daniel Pink's talk was entitled The Surprising Science of Motivation. The main idea of this talk was that, as Pink states, "There's a mismatch between what science knows and what business does." In other words, scientific studies show that incentives or rewards given out do not lead to harder work ethic and more success, they actually lead to the inverse of that. Less willingness to try hard, and worse outcome. For example, Pink talks about an experiment that was done on this case. There were two groups: one group was incentivized, and the other group was told that they would be studied to establish social norms. Both groups were given a problem known as the candle problem. The user is given a box of tacks, a candle, and some matches and told to tack the candle to the wall to stop the wax from getting onto the table.

         After the groups had thought about this problem for a while, they finally figured out the answer. They had to thumbtack the box into the wall and set the candle in it.

            After the experiment was finished, it was found that the incentivized group finished three and a half minutes slower than the un-incentivized group. But that does not make any sense. Then Pink goes on to tell the next part which was where both groups were given the same problem, but with the tacks out of the box.

             Now, oddly enough, the incentivized group figured out the problem much faster, and they were able beat the other group by a long shot. But why is that???

             The reason for this is that the second time, the task was straight forward and had a set of simple rules. But, the first time, the problem was more complex, and the answer was not as right out in the open. So Pink's point is this: In modern times, there are not as many problems like "candle problem for dummies", but there are many more like the real candle problem. In other words, straight-forward tasks are becoming less important, or can be completed in a better way be uses of technology. What is starting to become more needed is the completion of hard or creative problems. The use of the left brain will not be as important.

                Pink's speaking and presentation styles also contributes to this talk's success. Daniel Pink has a very distinct way of speaking. He is very calm, cool, and collected, and is able to get his points across very well. He does a good job of showing what is really important from his talk. So, with these different styles of speaking and presentation, Pink really enhanced the experience of his audience.

             The points made in Pink's talk are very important and matter incredible to our modern times, and may matter even more in the future. What matters is that business is doing something completely wrong. Offering the incentives does not help the overall outcome, it only makes it worse. How this matters to education is that schools and teachers do the exact same thing. Teachers give out rewards to the students who are successful, or use incentives to lead students to perform better. But, as the studies show, this does not work, and this method's use should be stopped. Personally, I can relate to this because of my experience with this. At my old school, for an incentive to do well on CSAP, the teachers offered the reward of a day at the park and a dress down day. But, looking back I can see that this did not work. Students, including myself, were worried too much about if the teachers would think that they were trying, and so they did not think about the actual work as they should have. Also, if the results were reviewed and compared with those from previous years, I think that Pink's point would have shown.

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