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Steve Ransom

Journey of Joy: Teaching Tips for Reflection, Rejuvenation and Renewal - 51 views

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    PDF doc. Great ideas.
Jason Schmidt

School Would Be Great If It Weren't for the Damn Kids - 95 views

  • It simply doesn’t make sense to try to “purge ‘ineffective’ teachers and principals.”  His listener, almost giddy with gratitude now, prepares to chime in, as Samuelson, without pausing, delivers the punch line:  That’s right, it’s time to stop blaming teachers and start . . . blaming students!
  • His focus is not on students’ achievements (the intellectual accomplishments of individual kids) but only on “student achievement” (the aggregate results of standardized tests)
  • As I’ve noted elsewhere, we have reason to worry when schooling is discussed primarily in the context of “global competitiveness” rather than in terms of what children need or what contributes to a democratic culture
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  • Upon hearing someone castigate students for being insufficiently motivated, a noneconomist might be inclined to ask two questions.  The first is:  “Motivated to do what, exactly”?  Anything they’re told, no matter how unengaging, inappropriate, or, well, demotivating? 
  • Whenever I see students made to cram facts into their short-term memories for a test, practice a series of decontextualized skills on yet another worksheet, listen passively to a lecture, or inch their way through the insipid prose of a corporate-produced textbook, I find myself thinking of a comment made by Frederick Herzberg, a critic of traditional workplace management:  “Idleness, indifference, and irresponsibility,” he said, “are healthy responses to absurd work.”
  • The more you reward people for doing something, or for doing it well, the less interest they typically come to have in whatever they had to do to get the reward. 
  • People who blame students for not being “motivated” tend to think educational success mean little more than higher scores on bad tests and they’re apt to see education itself as a means to making sure our corporations will beat their corporations.  The sort of schooling that results is the type almost guaranteed to . . . kill students’ motivation.
  • one thing that’s happened is a concatenation of rewards and punishments, including grades, which teach students that learning is just a means to an end.
  • Another thing that’s happened is teaching that’s meant primarily to raise test scores.
  • inner-city kids get the worst of the sort of schooling that’s not about exploring and discovering and questioning but only about working hard (often at rote tasks) and being nice (read: obedient).
  • “Motivation is weak because more students…don't like school, don't work hard and don't do well.”  But why don’t they like school (which is the key to understanding why, assuming his premise is correct, they don’t succeed)?  What has happened to their desire to figure out how things work, the hunger to make sense of things, with which all children start out? 
  • if you want to see (intrinsically) motivated kids, you need to visit classrooms or schools that take a nontraditional approach to education, places where students are more likely to be absorbed and frequently delighted, where what they’re doing is not merely “rigorous” (a word often applied to very difficult busywork) but meaningful.
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    Alfie Kohn's commentary on an article written by Robert J. Samuelson. Samuelson argues in his article that the problem with education reform is not the usual suspects like ineffective teachers, but kids who are lazy and unmotivated. Interesting read with thoughtful information about student motivation.
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