Herzberg two factor motivation schools

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Enhancing Effectiveness of Education System – Learning Curve October 2007

In 1959, Frederick Herzberg, psychologist, came up with “Motivation-Hygiene” theory where he proposed that job satisfaction and job dissatisfaction acted independently of each other. Factors such as nature of work, sense of achievement, recognition and responsibility, personal growth and advancement etc in the workplace cause job satisfaction which are distinct from those such as poor job security, poor work environment, organizational policy and administration etc that cause dissatisfaction.

This theory parallels Maslow ‘hierarchy of needs’ theory, where the hygiene factors largely relate to the basic needs or ‘deficiency needs’ that need to be met first, and the motivation factors relate to ‘growth’ needs. A similar analogy may be relevant to the education system itself to explore what would go into making it more effective in meeting education aims. Given the complexity, scale of the challenges, there are indeed innumerable factors, with both ‘hygiene’ and ‘motivating’ potential for making the system effective, or ineffective.

Support for school and school system infrastructure is clearly a hygiene requirement. While progress has been made in most parts of the country to provide schools within walking distance of habitations, much more needs to be done in the areas of quality and quantity of infrastructure. Adequate number of classrooms, which are spacious, well lit and ventilated, playground with play and sports equipment, teaching-learning material (however simple and local these be) library, laboratory are all critical requirements. We have a long way to go as these numbers indicate. (Anina, pls give some statistics here on shortage of classrooms, schools, teachers, libraries, drinking water, toilets etc – should be available in some published doc from Government)

Sufficient number of teachers is also a hygiene requirement. The norm of 40:1 ignoring the number of classes and the overall strength of the school can be quite debilitating. This norm needs to itself be reduced to the more manageable 30:1 and should be relaxed still further where school size is small, less than 200 (which is the case with vast majority of our schools). A school with 1 or 2 teachers with children in five classes means both that the teacher has to take classes throughout the day and in addition needs to prepare in various subjects. Both are unreasonable and unrealistic requirements – that teachers are absent or irregular today or do not teach well is not a reason to continue with the current arrangements, quite the contrary. To break out of this, we need to ensure sufficient number of teachers – again this is a hygiene measure, by itself does not guarantee quality education, but in its absence, quality is quite unlikely to materialize

Infrastructure would not be complete, if we did not consider meaningful access for the teachers as well, either through public transport availability or though residential quarters. These may seem very fanciful, but it is difficult to see how the teacher can be expected to be both regular and punctual in the absence of facilities of transport and or stay. The Karnataka Government, recognizing this need, had announced a program of providing residential accommodation to teachers, this would be a landmark when achieved.

Investment in the new community institutions as Parent associations and Panchayat Raj institutions is also a must, including building basic understanding of the roles and responsibilities of these institutions through a dialogue with their members, understanding their desires, concerns and limitations and relating it to the individual and institutional aims. These new institution are complex and their members often come from centuries of marginalization and significant investments in their orientation, capacity building is a pre-requisite (as a hygiene factor, it is a necessary though not a sufficient condition) for enabling more meaningful participation in the education processes. The school-community (teacher-parent) relationship has been very weak and has impacted accountability of the school to the community. A healthy and mutually supporting relationship requires adequate investment in its creation and maintenance.

It is estimated that asset maintenance costs are typically a significant proportion of the creation costs itself. However, this is largely ignored in the Government system, with maintenance budgets usually far lesser than what is required. So much so that the assets created are not able to used fully or to the fullest, because of classrooms or compound walls crumbling or toilets having no sanitation, dysfunctional libraries, water pumps etc

As JB Tilak emphasizes “Underinvestment in education is regarded as one of the most important reasons for our failure in realising our educational goals and targets. Even nearly six decades after independence, unacceptably large numbers of people are illiterate; large numbers of children are yet to see a school; and socioeconomic, gender and regional inequalities are significant”.

While many have said that this will not in itself produce the thrust for quality education, that is the very point that the two factor theory makes. While providing basic infrastructure may itself not lead to high quality classroom processes, in the absence of these, it is difficult to expect or envisage the same. Many times this hypothesis is refuted by giving examples of teachers and schools who are doing extremely well, even in the context of huge constraints or inadequacies. We could visualize peoples willingness to engage as a normal distribution, wherein, there would be the exceptional teachers (exceptional human beings?) who would put in great effort to go beyond the limitations of the context. However there would be a larger group of people who would do well, if the constraints that affect their working, which are beyond their control, are taken care of. (Of course there will also be a small group, which will not get engaged even if the work environment is excellent, teaching may not be the ‘right’ vocation for them). Either extreme can not be an argument to not provide a conducive work environment, since this would help the large ‘middle’ to want to enhance their engagement with their work and context.

Hygiene factors are thus necessary but NOT sufficient, which means the factors discussed above would not in themselves lead to systemic effectiveness. So what would Herzberg declare as the motivating factors for teachers. I would base my guess on what has been established to be motivating factors in a variety of other environments, firstly a greater autonomy to the teacher, enabling the teacher to define her/his own methods and innovations to deal with the requirements, rather than force teachers to accept preset methodologies through defined menus and training programs. Autonomy would include the provision of the space and time to teachers for building relationships with children. A meaningful relationship with the students can be a powerful incentive to be engaged with the often laborious and tiring job of teaching.

Supporting the teacher to see the link between what is happening daily in school and the larger goals of education (this requires supporting teachers exploration of defined national goals and framework, including curricular frameworks and helping them appreciate or critique these in an open and reflective manner) is critical to help their feeling of self-worth and esteem and that as has been said ‘No society can rise above its teachers’

Space and time to enable teachers to read and reflect and write out their own experiences is critical part of teacher education and necessary complement to formal training programs. Teacher peer interactions and exposure visits etc need to be actively encouraged and supported (this is not the same as ‘being deputed’ as per the instructions of senior officials). The teacher is currently often perceived as the ‘lowest rung’ official of the Government system; and all other levels are ‘higher’ and need to ‘monitor’ the teacher so that teaching goals are met. This needs to shift totally to a mindset of ‘teacher facilitation and support’.

Teacher education must proceed from a regular dialogue with teachers on their perception of their needs. For the teachers to voice out a need requires that we ask them first! At the same time we also need to be able to introduce in a gradual and non-autocratic manner, training/orientation programs for which teacher demand may be low/not articulated, such as those relating to subjects as equity in the classroom.

Recognition of teachers efforts and quality outcomes is an imperative. The Indian mindset is to be extremely niggardly in this aspect and even when this is done, it is subject to ‘quotas’ etc. ‘Eagerly seeking and finding good teaching and recognizing it’ is critical to enhance engagement and effectiveness of the system. A corollary is the large heartedness to avoid focusing on trivial errors or mistakes of teachers which is essentially the lot of the human being.

Almost all the points that are mentioned in the context of the teacher here are as valid for the officials who work within the Government system, whether as cluster block resource people or as district or block administration officers or as DIET faculty.

Of course this note may give the impression that all humans are assumed to react in the same manner and have the same set of hygiene and motivating factors. That is of course not the case and the workplace requires a closer relationship building to understand the nuances of peoples individual needs and aspirations and how work can be one means to satisfying the same. This itself is a complex and gradual process that needs space and time

In short, the value in Herzbergs proposition is to separate the hygiene factors from the motivation factors in understanding systemic effectiveness or lack of it. This has the following learning:

  1. Investment in hygiene factors should not be criticized on the grounds that it is not contributing to learning. It is not likely to contribute, yet it is essential, since lack of such investment can contribute to poor motivation
  2. Secondly expenditure on motivation factors would not lead to greater employee engagement when hygiene factors have not been taken care of. Rewards or awards to teachers make no sense, when classrooms are few, or poorly lit-ventilated and there are too few teachers in a school
  3. Adequate investment in both is required to create environment that is conducive to greater employee engagement. Even then, it is difficult to expect that every teacher would be motivated.

Gurumurthy K