On the whole, though, I agree that people are motivated for different reasons now days than they used to be. I think that is reasonable. In my previous blog post I discussed the expectation that some have that everyone have the same philosophy on education. In the same way, I think some, such as the executive from Unilever mentioned in the article, expect everyone to have the same motivations for motivation. I think this is unrealistic, and even ego-centric. I also think it is easy to buy into the age old, "the next generation is always worst than the last" mentality. Interestingly, when you look at the economic angle of this thought process, the generation that was most affected by the half a decade long economic downturn recently, those under 30, had nothing to do with causing it. I think if anything young people today have had to work harder than in a long time in order to enter at just the bottom floor. Overall, I think as Wagner points out, motivating students by giving them tasks they are truly interested in and find value in, is a good starting point for harnessing the motivation innately inside most people.
In chapter 6, Wagner discusses several different schools with new educational models, and their successes in preparing students for the world after high school. These schools have looked at the skills students need to be successful in their careers and in life and have built models around these skills. The one that is most appealing to me, is the High Tech High model. When I was in high school, math was never really my strength. I could eventually learn how to do it, but it took a lot more work than my other classes. I wonder if my experience would have been different if I had attended a high school with a different model of teaching math? High Tech High, is a project based school focused on technology, science and math, but from a unique angle. It is not just an idea from someone with a more theoretical background, it was created with input from actual business leaders in the technology industry. I like that the school is project based, and the statistics for the school are impressive, such as a high rate of college acceptance and a demographic representative of the county's population. It is clearly an expanding model with many new campuses opened since the original. Another aspect of the High Tech High model that I think is good, is the value on skills beyond traditional university skills. For example, the founder worked with carpentry students and saw the valuable skills they had to offer, and their unique intelligence and mindset, equally valid and important as those in university. I think America would benefit from a shift back towards valuing skilled trade workers as well as those with advanced degrees. There are millions of Americans who may never graduate college, but knowing a trade should be another viable path for success. In the case of High Tech High, not only do they help students learn skills but at the same time, they have an impressive post-secondary education track record as well. High Tech High is certainly an interesting model I would like to learn more about.