Three conditions are scientifically proven to activate learning motivation

See Daniel H. Pink's 2009 book, DRIVE: The Surprising Truth About What Motivates Us.


freedom to self-direct, not controlled by someone else


challenges not too easy (boring) not too difficult (frustrating) but just right, "in the zone", plus fast feedback


a good reason to learn something or an inner interest


There is ONLY ONE educator in a classroom.

There are MANY STUDENTS in a classroom.

Students are ALL DIFFERENT:
different abilities, interests and needs


BECAUSE students are ALL different, the ONLY WAY to learn in THEIR OWN ZONE is with AUTONOMY.

Only with AUTONOMY, can EACH student activate MASTERY (challenges in their own zone)

Only with AUTONOMY, can EACH student activate PURPOSE (involve their own interests)

The only question is:

Can WE HELP students BECOME MORE ABLE to use autonomy?

(use autonomy to learn instead of "goofing off")

students to use autonomy learn in their own zone.





Children grow up to be more independent.

We let 9-year old children bicycle around the block — but not a 4 year old!

It's one thing to be able to ride a bicycle and another to be independently responsible enough to manage driveways and crosswalks and strangers.

There is a reason the law (in most states) only allows 16-year olds to drive, not say, a 10-year old.

Again, it's one thing to learn how to drive — something a 10-year old can learn to do — and another to have developed the capability of responsibly and independently managing the driving.

The law takes note of the independence that naturally develops.

Independent capability is NOT guaranteed.

Not all 16-year olds have developed enough to drive responsibly.



Students learn things like "I HAVE thoughts. They change all the time, but I am NOT my thoughts. I am still me."

Students learn "I HAVE feelings. My feelings change all the time, but I am NOT my feelings. I am still me."

Thoughts and feelings, positive or negative, effect us.

Let's use knowledge of how to positively reframe thoughts and feelings to live the experience I choose to experience, instead of living "in the wind" as our thoughts and feelings take us.

Cognitive reframing

There is mountains of evidence for the positive effects of re-framing.

Dr. Nate Zennsler uses many variations of cognitive reframing with his superbowl-winning clients, his army cadets and Olympic athlete mentees. You can read all about the richness of this technique in The Confident Mind.

Imagine students, just by going to school, getting the benefit of the best type of coaching for success, the same used by world-class athletes!

Motivational interviewing

Motivational interviewing is an evidence-based practice used to support positive change.

Following is a motivational interview with "The wise part within" and a creative use of "the skill of the will" adapted from He Hit Me Back First! by Eva Fugitt.

Students use a form to answer questions.

What would you like to be able to do? ________________________________________
(Students are encouraged to choose easy goals while learning this process.)

What are three benefits of accomplishing this goal?

1. _________________________________________

2. _________________________________________

3. _________________________________________

What are three burdens of NOT accomplishing this goal?

1. _________________________________________

2. _________________________________________

3. _________________________________________

What is your plan, the four steps you take to win and achieve your goal?

1. _________________________________________

2. _________________________________________

3. _________________________________________

4. _________________________________________

At the end of the day, the final questions are:

Did I win? Y/N

Why? I followed/did-not-follow my plan.

NOTICE: how natural it is to DESIRE to follow through from listing the burdens and benefits.

NOTICE: students themselves are becoming better able to AUTONOMOUSLY make BETTER CHOICES, by asking their own "wise part within" these questions.

NOTICE: students are developing the AUTONOMOUS ability to FOLLOW THROUGH on choices by SKILLFULLY planning the steps necessary to accomplish a goal.

Neuropsychological feedback

After the goal above is achieved, students are asked to stand up, and for a solid twenty seconds FEEL GOOD ABOUT IT. From the tip of their toes to the top of their head. Don't you feel good you don't have to do it...because you already did it? (Big smiles) Don't you feel good about HOW POWERFUL you are becoming.

This technique develops habits into the brain, habits of happiness, of accomplishment.

See Buddha Brain, by the famous neuropsychologist Rick Hanson for the fascinating evidence supporting these practices.

How about this? Habits of confidence. Just because someone can do something doesn't been someone is confident, not second-guessing themselves, attitudes with poor mental health outcomes. Learning, accomplishing, capable and confident. To want to go to school. That's how we want students to grow up.

Guided imagery, a mindfulness practice, for increasing attention span

If students can't pay attention long enough to learn something, the obstacle to learning is NOT the ability to learn, it's the ability to AUTONOMOUSLY FOCUS ONE'S OWN MIND.

Enter the evidence-based practice of guided imagery, one of the benefits of which is an increased attention span!

The mind-body connection

A traumatic event has occurred causing stress throughout the neighboring community. Perhaps for that reason (or another reason) a student is emotionally out of control. Highly stressed. It is impacting the whole class.

The event is over, but that student and even other students are still living it.

It's difficult to learn while fight-or-flight instincts are stimulated so the body can focus on physical defense.

But today, there are many techniques to allow us to recognize the event, honor our feelings, and become ready to move on, because it's okay now.

Surprisingly, one good approach is to have students recognize how helpful fear is. how stress can be a life-saver as it help us respond to a truly dangerous situation, and to be thankful that we have this ability to respond that way.

"Isn't it amazing" an educator can say "how the body helps us?".

"Now, let's see. Where were we? Let's get back to work!"

Post Traumatic Growth

This article is a good introduction to Post Traumatic Growth.

In the article NOTICE the distinction made between homeostatic coping which results in a restoration to the state before the traumatic experience, which is good, but what is better is transformational coping which results in increased strength and resilience.

As Sharon Cyrus-Savary says (see comments in our supporters) "Growth through adversity leads to maturity! There is opportunity to grow meeting students where they are. When students are less stressed, they are more capable to help each other learn. "


WE most certainly CAN HELP students BECOME MORE ABLE to use autonomy!

Students most certainly CAN become ABLE to, instead of "goofing off", use autonomy to help each other learn...and in THEIR OWN ZONES!

The CAUSED EFFECTS of Cognitive reframing, Motivational interviewing, Neuropsychological feedback, Guided imagery and many other practices

RESULTS in more autonomously capable and confident students.

These students can now USE autonomy to ACTIVATE MOTIVATION by choosing challenges in THEIR OWN ZONE.

Once motivation is activated...they're busy learning...and just right...for each and every student. And it feels good!

Does anyone want to argue it CANNOT BE DONE?

Does anyone seriously argue students don't grow up? That we cannot develop human potential in students?

Of course not.

We can. And by the way, only with autonomy, can students, who are all different, learn just right for each.

1-size-fits-all can NOT work. 1-size-just-right-for each DOES work!