There is a famous quote about selling property, “There are three things that matter, Location, Location, and Location”.
With the consumer Internet, where I’ve spent most of my professional career, that quote becomes, “There are three things that matter, Distribution, Distribution, and Distribution”. If you can create a consumer product that spreads easily (goes viral) then some level of success is very likely.
Over the past few years as I’ve dedicated myself to education, I’ve come to realize that with education there are also three things that matter, Motivation, Motivation, and Motivation.
In all three situations you will not have any success if you’re lacking this key ingredient and, if you achieve this key ingredient, you’re likely to achieve some degree of success even if everything else is lacking.
If a person is trying to learn something then motivation is all that really matters. With enough motivation that learning will take place. The motivation can come from a lot of different sources, such as curiosity, purpose, progress, rewards, fear of punishment, addiction, pleasure, etc. Regardless of where it comes from, it is the driving force behind learning.
Of course location is not simply a one dimensional quality. Location can be affected by many factors (safety, access to urban areas, access to nature, local conveniences, etc). Similarly motivation is not simply a matter of how long someone will engage with something. It must also be evaluated along many factors:
Is it a short spurt of motivation or does it last for months or even years?
Does the motivation persist in the face of obstacles?
Accessibility / Convenience
Is the source of motivation easy or difficult to tap in to?
Does the source of motivation require an external source (extrinsic vs. intrinsic)?
Is the motivation overwhelming to the detriment of everything else (e.g. addiction)?
There may be other factors worth considering, but these are the ones I consider to be the most important. I think if you can create circumstances and environments that facilitate high quality motivation then you’re well on your way to making a significant difference in education.