Tuesday, August 10, 2004

Rewards?

"We destroy the disinterested (I do not mean uninterested) love of learning in small children, which is so strong when they are small, by encouraging and compelling them to work for petty and contemptible rewards -- gold stars, or papers marked 100 and tacked to the wall, or A's on report cards, or honor rolls, or dean's lists, or Phi Beta Kappa keys -- in short for the ignoble satisfaction of feeling that they are better than someone else." John Holt, How Children Fail, Revised Edition, p. 274

See also Alfie Kohn, Punished by Rewards -- I've glanced at it; my main interest is rewards in the context of learning and his book covers rewards in many situations, including the workplace.

5 comments:

Anonymous said...

Montessori agreed too that rewards were detrimental to children for very similar reasons.

Marjorie said...

I didn't know that, I haven't read enough about her. It certainly explains why there are no grades in Montessori schools.

Anne Zelenka said...

I don't think the love of learning is quite so fragile as Holt thinks. If it were, how do you explain the huge numbers of adults who have gone through the standard school system with its systematic use of external rewards and have then gone on to engage in lifelong pursuit of learning and knowledge?

Anne Zelenka said...

I got Alfie Kohn's book What Does It Mean To Be Well Educated? at the library. I was interested to see that this book was published by Beacon Press books which are "published under the auspices of the Unitarian Universalist Association of Congregations." Kind of interesting, huh? I'll let you know what I think after I read it.

Marjorie said...

"how do you explain the huge numbers of adults who have gone through the standard school system...then [go] on to engage in lifelong pursuit of learning and knowledge?"
Deschooling. Seriously. From my own experience [which may not extrapolate to others], it was years before I wanted to pick up a book to learn something from it -- I was so sick of school, and I thought, learning. Even now, I need to deschool with regard to my children's learning.
But I take your point, most of us are not ruined by school.