Posts Tagged Alfie Kohn

Hold the Modeling and Praise

, secure their inquiries with a line of habitual responses: “You did a good job!” Of course…I love it!” “Well done, what an awesome drawing.” Etc. But, if we contain our selves from a knee jerk response, and rethink the language that we use, we may want to reconsider.

This sort of praise can cause more harm, than good when it comes to raising self-reliant, critical thinking, confident kids, who look inwardly for reassurance, rather than someone else’s validation. The loss of a genuine sense of independence and self-empowerment can be awash with the warm fuzziness of continual, un-interrupted, knee jerking response of praise. Alfie Kohn, gives a much clearer argument on why we should refrain from using praise in Five Reasons to Stop Saying “Good Job!”

Challenging our selves to replace fluffed up flagrant praise with more inquiry into their work or pointing what seemingly may be the obvious. Observation statements may sound like this: “I noticed you worked really hard on your project.” “I see you used a lot of blue tones.” “I notice your spending more time on writing your words. Inquiry based statements may sound like this: “That’s a interesting drawing. What image cam to mind when you created it?” “How come you decided to intersect the lines or draw circles here?” “Where did you get the idea for your story.” Etc.

Modeling a certain way to come to a product can also cripple the natural progress of creation. As parents and educators who value independence, self-confidence, and free creative expressionism, lets refrain from portraying a perfect prototype or model. Yes we want to interact with kids and do various activities within their company, but we want to be careful not to display an outcome or product, in which they cannot achieve in that present moment. It also may inadvertently place and idea that there is a right and wrong way of creating, and paints an expectation that devalues their work. Yes, it’s tempting to want to draw with the youngster or mold clay together, but refrain oneself from modeling. However in the position of working on a project together, insist on disciplining oneself to use opposing hands to create. If you’re left-handed use your right, and if you’re right handed, use your right. If you’re an ambidextrous, than use your feet or mouth. But what ever we do we can’t be Dali or Picasso. Kids, as we know, look up to our image, and can feel self defeated if they can’t live up to their adult role models.

Paying more attention to an interaction with youth that involves less praise and modeling, while rethinking what social habits we can change in our own lives can have an empowering effect on the lives of kids. It also challenges us to reshape the dialogue provoking and stimulating more creative and critical thought, not only among the youngsters but among us adults.


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Stamping Out Praise

“The prize and the punishments are incentives toward unnatural or forced effort, and, therefore, we cannot speak of the natural development of the child in connection with them…Punishments! I have not realized they were an indispensable institution holding sway over the whole of child humanity. All men have grown up under this humiliation.” Maria Montessori, Childhood Education

More on the subject of rewards, praise, and punishments in an interview with Alfie Kohn.

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