Monday, December 20, 2010

Twitter Book Club: @alfiekohn The Schools Our Children Deserve (1999) - Ch 2

Getting Motivation Wrong: The Costs of Overemphasizing Achievement

"some teachers are 'more interested in what they're teaching than in what students are learning,' more focused on s... than a minute ago via Twittelator

I have to admit that when I entered this profession, and for my first four years as a teacher, this was definitely true of me. I really did care more about my subject than about what my students were learning. My subject was the reason I became a teacher in the first place. I was excited to be able to spend every day immersed in the subject of art. Nothing could have been more rewarding for me at the time. It wasn't until I started to "See" my students that this changed. In many ways I would have preferred to have been left back in the dark regarding this. It was personally rewarding to be that kind of teacher. It meant that no matter how my students did I was doing a good job so long as I was in the element. Problem was, it did not make me a very effective teacher. I was teaching content, not students.

"for people to think about how well they're doing is not at all the same as thinking about what they are doing." Alfie Kohnless than a minute ago via Twittelator

"Research and experience teach us that when 'performance-oriented instructional strategies' are used, such as emph... than a minute ago via Twittelator

"Those led to think about the level of their achievement probably won't reach beyond their comfort zone to see what... than a minute ago via Twittelator

"students who are concerned about doing well, especially in comparison to their classmates, are relatively unlikely... than a minute ago via Twittelator

"When students are constantly made to think about how well they are doing, they are apt to explain the outcome in t... than a minute ago via Twittelator

@alfiekohn what is the difference between making mistakes and failure?less than a minute ago via Twittelator

"A grade of B in English tells you nothing about what your child can do, what she understands, where she needs help." Alfie Kohnless than a minute ago via Twittelator

"what grades offer is spurious precision—a subjective rating masquerading A's an objective evaluation." Alfie Kohnless than a minute ago via Twittelator

"Grading...relieves educators from having to rethink what and how they are teaching. It's always the kid who is sai... than a minute ago via Twittelator

Last year I taught a class where I eliminated grades. I told the students that unless they failed to show up or do any of the work they would all receive A's in my class they would all be able to give themselves their own grade. I had a professor in college do this once and at that time the practice made no sense to me, nor did she go to any great length to explain the practice to us. When I did this I explained that I did not want thinking about how well they were doing get in the way of thinking about what they were doing. It was a class in digital media arts and students enrolling already all enjoyed movies, videos, games, and other forms of digital media. The last thing I wanted to do was let the effects of grades interfere with the intrinsic motivation they already brought to the class. I was met with resistance from other staff members. What followed was a textbook example of exactly the kind of response that Kohn describes. "If you let the kids all give themselves A's then their grades mean nothing!" "If you do this in your class it makes me look bad if I don't do it in mine." "Grades are important for college entrance, how will our kids get into college if they don't have any meaningful grades." To which I replied, "So, we need grades to sort our kids?" Ultimately, no one won this fight. Luckily I had the support of the administration at this school and made them fully aware of my intentions before the course ever started.

Alfie Kohn Interview on than a minute ago via

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