Giving Compass' Take:

• In this story from Getting Smart, author Michael Niehoff argues that students will be more invested in their education if they are given more meaningful work.

• Niehoff points out that adults typically search for work that they are "passionate" about, and argues that students would reasonably want the same from their education. What does "passionate education" look like, and how can we make education adaptable so that each student can pursue their unique areas of interest.

• To learn about four ways to boost college and career readiness, click here.


Traditionally, our students have worked for a variety of reasons – grades, approval, compliance, fear and future success. In terms of motivation, we have tried many things including, but not limited to incentives, choices, punishment, relationships, technology and more. However, how often have educators studied, or tried to really understand, what makes us – any of us – want to work?

The Power of Purposeful Work

Although we often approach work through the lens of compensation (usually pay), most adults strive for and discover a sense of pride and accomplishment in their careers. Yes, we work hard for our salaries and compensation, but successful people work hard also because their work matters to them. They see their work as a contribution to something larger – company, organization, industry or even society. We often refer to this work in terms of passion, purpose or meaning. This is all of becoming motivated to do more work, but more importantly better work, higher quality work, and more significant work. This is the process, feeling or experience we should be trying to impart to our students. If we understand why we work, we should be able to understand why they may not. This would explain why worksheets, tests, lectures, notes, and other traditional foundational learning experiences might not be the work that students will want to do or work to make it their best.

Read the full article about why we work by Michael Niehoff at Getting Smart