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Human Motivation in the Digital Commons: Reflections on Robbie McClintock’s Conception of Formative Justice

by Darryl De Marzio & Timothy Ignaffo - 2016

Background & Purpose: According to McClintock, persons and groups exercise formative justice as a strategy of selecting the behaviors, powers, and potentials that ought to receive educational attention to achieve their maximization. We argue that the question of what motivates individuals and collectives to utilize certain capacities to realize specific goals becomes paramount to the issue of formative justice. Drawing on distinguished work in experimental psychology and network theory, we explore the relationship between human motivation and the utilization of commons-based digital resources in education. We argue that the insights gained in the course of integrating commons-based digital resources into educational practice can also further advance our critical understanding of Robbie McClintock’s conception of formative justice. In particular, we focus on the twin notions of value and human motivation in both formative justice and digital culture. Formative justice and digital culture share an emphasis on the pursuit of goals for intrinsic purposes rather than as a means toward extrinsic rewards such as monetary compensation. This shared approach to value theory makes formative justice an increasingly important contribution to 21st-century educational theory.

Research Design: We analyze Robbie McClintock’s conception of formative justice, as well as work in experimental psychology and network theory, in order to give substance to the theory of human motivation implied in his account.

Conclusions/Recommendations: We conclude by suggesting that formative justice as an educational paradigm is best served by an emergent curriculum that responds to the evolving interests of students in connection with the teacher’s knowledge base and interests.

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Cite This Article as: Teachers College Record Volume 118 Number 10, 2016, p. 1-18
https://www.tcrecord.org ID Number: 21620, Date Accessed: 3/1/2021 8:40:32 PM

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About the Author
  • Darryl De Marzio
    University of Scranton
    E-mail Author
    DARRYL DE MARZIO is Chair and Associate Professor of Foundations of Education in the Education Department at the University of Scranton. His main areas of scholarship include philosophy for children, the ethics of teaching, humanistic teacher-education, and the philosophy of Michel Foucault. Recent publications include “What Happens in Philosophical Texts: Matthew Lipman’s Theory and Practice of the Philosophical Text as Model,” Childhood & Philosophy (2011); and “Modern Art, Cynicism, and the Ethics of Teaching,” Philosophy of Education Yearbook (2012).
  • Timothy Ignaffo
    E-mail Author
    TIMOTHY IGNAFFO is a Visiting Researcher at the Christian-Albrechts-University of Kiel in Germany, researching “Educational Responsibility in Times of Social Crisis.” He is the cofounder of the Philosophy Outreach Program at Columbia University and is a Ph.D. candidate in Philosophy and Education at Teachers College, Columbia University.
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