A Driving Instructor's Blog

Another interesting story – this one is about the modern culture of praising and rewarding children for things like being able to pee in the toilet without missing as if they’d just invented an unlimited energy machine or something.

I couldn’t agree more.

The article says:

Growing numbers of experts believe families lavishing compliments on their youngsters for something trivial actually demotivates them.

It isn’t just children. It demotivates anyone with brains enough to see through it… and for those without the brains, you just end up with a bunch of people who’ve been told they are brilliant when they aren’t!

The whole issue ties in with an earlier post about exams and the annual argument over whether they are easier than they used to be. FACT: Yes. Exams are easier now than they used to be. And the pass level is set so low that they are almost impossible to fail. People just can’t seem to grasp the simple concept that if you have someone with intelligence measured on a scale of 1-100 right at the top end, then somewhere or other there will be someone with intelligence right at the bottom end. And most people will cluster somewhere in the middle.

So rigging exams to make sure everyone gets grades which point to them being at the top end is simply covering up the reality. And this latest article is providing evidence which fits right into that reality: pointless praising of someone who isn’t bright does not make them bright. In most cases they know they aren’t bright, and the false praise is wasted. As the article says:

Simon Brownhill, a sen[i]or lecturer in education at Derby University, said that prizes should be linked to proper achievement, above what is normally expected.

He said: ‘A prize should be something you can work towards. When I was learning to swim I got a certificate for five metres, one for ten metres and so on.

‘Whilst I am all for rewarding achievement, it has to genuinely recognise progress. A prize or certificate for nothing devalues the concept of a reward.’

In other words, you only get praised or rewarded if you actually do achieve something real.

As usual, some of the comments left by people on the Mail article give an insight into what I am saying about some people having intelligence down the bottom end of the scale. Fed Up from Birmingham is a prime example:

Load of rubbish. You try telling a child everyday that it’s useless, and in the end they believe it enough TO BE USELESS. Now, try praising a child everyday, for anything, no matter how small, and that child will feel 10″ tall. And before you say ‘how do i know’, well i’ve brought up 3 healthy, well balanced, sucessful children that are a credit to me and everybody around them, by doing just that.

Nothing annoys me more than people who cannot understand something failing to realise their limitations and then opening their mouths to broadcast the fact. This idiot has missed the point entirely: trying to make children feel good about nothing is not as useful as making them feel good about a real achievement. No one said anything about telling them they are useless – just don’t keep telling them they’re great unless they actually are!

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