Don Berg's

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Know Don.

Don Berg is an award winning author, education psychology researcher, alternative education practitioner, and leader.

Thought leader and expert On

Motivation in educational settings

Education Leader.

Has over 20 years of experience leading children of all ages in mostly non-classroom settings. Earned a Bachelor’s degree in psychology from Reed College in 2012.


Homeschooled many children in a consensus run small group for five years. 

Award Winning Author.

His seventh book – Schooling For Holistic Equity: How To Manage the Hidden Curriculum for K-12 and awarded by Independentpressaward.com in 2023

Some Background Information

About Don.

Don Berg is an author, education psychology researcher, alternative education practitioner, and leader. His latest book Schooling for Holistic Equity: How to Manage the Hidden Curriculum in K-12 is due to be released in December 2022.

He has been published in the peer-reviewed journals Other Education, The Journal Of The Experimental Analysis Of Behavior, and the Journal of East China Normal University (Educational Sciences). He has over 20 years of experience leading children in self-directed educational settings. He has taught psychology at The Village Free School in Portland, Oregon, USA.

As the Executive Director of Deeper Learning Advocates, he is on a mission to embed the psychology of learning in policy so that policy stops undermining learning. As an international presenter his work has been featured at conferences in the USA, Canada, the Netherlands, and in China.

As an entrepreneur, he runs Attitutor Media and currently lives at the Joyful Llama Ranch in West Linn, Oregon.

A published Author

The Book.

There is no question that the American education system is in crisis. There is a significant risk that the mainstream school system will cheat children out of some – if not all – of the education they deserve because a pervasive, hidden curriculum utterly fails to support the well-being of students and educators. Students are expected to act like data-processing machines, but real human beings do not act like machines. In his groundbreaking book Schooling for Holistic Equity, Don Berg explores the reasons for current high levels of student and teacher disengagement, the disconnect between educational goals and results, and the “fauxachievement” and shallow learning that prove woefully inadequate in preparing students for higher education or the workforce.

A researcher with more than twenty years of experience in education, Berg lays out the foundation for a scientific understanding of deeper learning grounded in Self-Determination Theory and the primary human needs of autonomy, competence, and relatedness. He shows how the central problem in our schools has less to do with academic instruction and more to do with the psychology of learning. His model for educational design, called Catalytic Pedagogy, is a comprehensive plan to bring about large-scale, systems-level change.

Psychological research shows us how to engage and motivate people, and recognizing human needs provides us with the exact guidance necessary to proceed as effective learners and teachers. Schools should be – and can be – joyful places where passionate teachers teach enthusiastic students. It’s time for a transformation in education, and Berg’s trailblazing model shows us the way.

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6 Topics.

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  1. Equity based on science, not politics.
  2. Can making lessons optional, instead of mandatory, be the future of K-12 schooling?
  3. What happens when children make the rules at school?
  4. In our democratic society, should teachers continue to be benevolent dictators over students?
  5. Why do we do it? The hidden sources of our motivation.
  6. The hidden curriculum and why it is more powerful than the explicit curriculum.

12 Questions.

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  1. Isn’t it obvious that motivation matters to learning, why write over 400 pages to point out the obvious?
  2. What do you have against academics?
  3. You have proposed something you call Back-to-Basics 2.0, what was wrong with the original back-to-basics?
  4. In one of your online videos you complain about how both sides of the equity debate got it partly wrong, which parts are wrong and which parts are right?
  5. You did your research degree in motivation psychology and have some experience leading children in non-school settings, but you don’t have a teaching degree or a teaching credential, why should school folks listen to what you’re saying?
  6. You seem to be championing schools that you admit are on the margins of the schooling industry, would you explain what makes those schools different?
  7. They are very different, so why should we believe that more mainstream schools have anything to learn from them?
  8. Why haven’t the mainstream schools learned those lessons already?
  9. Are there schools that are somewhere in between the democratic schools and the mainstream?
  10. In your book you bring up the famous meme that compares equity to equality by showing three people of different height in front of a fence that can block their view of a ball game. What’s wrong with it?
  11. Why is it important that schools stop students from skating by with good grades that hide their lack of learning? You used the term fauxcheivement, or fake achievement, right?
  12.  You claim that one of the major findings in psychology is that situations are more powerful than personalities or dispositions. What do you mean by that? Are you saying my personality doesn’t matter?

Previous Podcast Interviews

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