Praise Junkies?

Tom Hoffman's Google Reader shared items brought me to this NYTimes article. It's important stuff. I'd like to think that we are a bit more cautious about dishing out praise on this side of the pond, but we still seem to spend a lot of time praising achievement rather than effort. This is what the article condemns. Read it, then tell me what you think :)


  1. I found this article fascinating. I've been thinking a lot about confidence recently as we have been targeting underachieving boys in school. As you say, I like to think that we don't dish out praise so indiscriminately as our American cousins -but I'm not sure we don't have our own version of it.

    Watching American Idol gives you a horrible insight into the results of ill advised 'self -esteem' philosophies. British contestants seem similar, although they tend to find it difficult to sustain quite the same level of delusion.

    I have found AifL practices useful in giving targeted praise. I'm really interested in how we use failure and making mistakes as a springboard for renewed effort. But would also like to know what place accepting limitations has.

    For example, what do people think about something I heard at an INSET recently:
    'Do you believe all of your students can get an A at higher?' Most teachers (reluctantly) said 'No.' -and the response was 'Well that's why you aren't getting better results'.

  2. I don't suppose many schools would book an in-service speaker who promised "I'm going to tell your staff how they can maybe get most of their pupils through their exams" would they ? ;)

    At my school many parents have very high expectations of their children. This is a great thing - especially if it is fundamentally an expectation in terms of effort. Sometimes, though, it can be an absolute expectation in terms of performance. This can also be a good thing, but occasionally it puts a student into the painful situation of being doomed not to meet the expectations of their parents. As a teacher this can be diffficult for me, but it is surely far more difficult for the poor student.

    I remember reading an article about education in Japan (perhaps not a country we would want to emulate, given the high teenage suicide rate), which said that all praise in Japanese education is about effort, not performace.


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