The Incentive

“The incentives I took as an insult. I didn’t think motivation was needed. It was not the right thing for me, not the right thing for my players.”
Joe Torre, turning down an offer to continue as manager of the NY Yankees.

I am not much of a fan of professional sports* but I was struck by Joe Torre’s comment that was all over the news at the end of the week. His remark that money was not the incentive for winning a pennant or a World Series struck a chord. Surely all major league teams and their managers are motivated to gain such post-season glory. And how would a financial incentive upfront make one jot of difference?

It reminded me of Rick Lavoie’s comment in the classic learning video F.A.T. City where, in a workshop simulation, he offers a financial incentive to one of the participants. She is very motivated but still unable to complete the task. And of course, when you don’t “get it”in school – when you can’t perceive the answer, it’s not a lack of motivation but a need for good teaching.

I don’t know why Joe Torre was insulted but I do think it insults children when well-meaning but misguided adults offer incentives for learning.

*Although I enjoy watching the games of young people I actually know. I managed to see the best part of three soccer matches this week – middle school, girls’ varsity and boys’ varsity – great games all of them. Here are a few pictures from recent games.

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