Monday, October 26, 2015

Notes and Links for Class on Sharing the Marbles/Intrinsic Motivation

Volunteering - Peter Drucker

The Essential Drucker, a collection of Peter Drucker essays. It is not a new book, but it is worth the read. He argues that people should have two jobs, one for pay, the other where they volunteer. It is the second job that gives the sense of social responsibilities and fills in all the needs that the market doesn't provide. He also makes clear that people volunteer for two reasons, both of which need to be satisfied - they have to feel their efforts matter and they have to feel they grow from the experience so training to encourage growth is paramount.

Drucker Institute

Justice and Fairness - John Rawls

Rawls offers an alternative to utilitarianism (for us this is maximizing the social surplus).  He allows for some inequality, provided it is needed to benefit all.  He looks at society from a "Veil of Ignorance" where people don't know what station in life they will hold - rich or poor, talented or infirmed.  From there he concludes that the aim of society is to make those worst off have the highest attainable welfare.  (You can think of this as a maximin strategy for society as a whole.)

A Theory of Justice

Justice as Fairness

Group Work - Web site from Carnegie Mellon

While the potential learning benefits of group work are significant, simply assigning group work is no guarantee that these goals will be achieved. In fact, group projects can – and often do – backfire badly when they are not designed, supervised, and assessed in a way that promotes meaningful teamwork and deep collaboration.

Intrinsic Motivation  Maslow and Self-Actualization

Web site from Shippensburg University

Properties of the Self-Actualizer (Abraham Lincoln may be the quintessential example.)
Truth, rather than dishonesty.
Goodness, rather than evil.
Beauty, not ugliness or vulgarity.
Unity, wholeness, and transcendence of opposites, not arbitrariness or forced choices.
Aliveness, not deadness or the mechanization of life.
Uniqueness, not bland uniformity.
Perfection and necessity, not sloppiness, inconsistency, or accident.
Completion, rather than incompleteness.
Justice and order, not injustice and lawlessness.
Simplicity, not unnecessary complexity.
Richness, not environmental impoverishment.
Effortlessness, not strain.
Playfulness, not grim, humorless, drudgery.
Self-sufficiency, not dependency.
Meaningfulness, rather than senselessness.


  1. This is the segment from the NewsHour on employee ownership and its relationship to employee motivation. It is an interesting piece. I wouldn't be surprised if other companies on the upswing also embrace the approach.

  2. Interesting reading about self actualization and the characteristics of a self actualized individual. A website stated that one characteristic is a continued freshness of appreciation in which even simple experiences can inspire and amaze. Perhaps the monotony and strict adherence to a lifestyle dominated by schedules might be acting as a major hindrance to people achieving self actualization. I'm assuming this is why the examples of self actualized individuals in the past have been powerful or influential figures who were not held down by the constraints of everyday life experienced by a majority of the populace. Did Maslow ever say what a society of self actualized people would look like? Is it something close to a utopia?

    1. This is Arvan not Maslow. I do think that most students are incredibly over programmed and don't allow themselves the freedom to pursue that which captures the imagination. They are too busy for that.

      On Maslow describing self-actualized people, I don't know. I've only read Toward a Pyschology of Being and a few other essays. But the book Flow does describe such people. They do have a fair amount of autonomy but can otherwise exist in any walk of life. It is more a way of going about things that any particular avocation.

      There seem to me two questions for reality, not utopia. If you want that for yourself, can you arrange your life so it produces self-actualization much of the time? That's the first question. Then there is, do most people want this? I have no idea on the second question, but it seems to me that if the answer was universally yes, then more people would be trying to answer the first question.

      Last year in class I mentioned a book several times called Excellent Sheep (which referred to students at elite colleges, and not in a complimentary way). I think it is quite good on diagnosing the issue. The author was an English professor, and he says the humanities are the answer. I'm less sure of that. But if your are aware of the issue you can then try to provide your own answer.