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Klarinet Archive - Posting 000062.txt from 2001/02

Subj: [kl] Venting again....
Date: Sat, 3 Feb 2001 09:58:49 -0500

Bill Wright wrote,
> This time it wasn't a member of my family, but this week I saw
>another case of a teacher (not at the store where I take lessons)
>withholding praise and a green ribbon from a child who was trying and
>finally got a passage approximately but not completely correct.
> It's so sad to see that happen. I have no idea what the teacher's
>motive was, but I certainly wouldn't let him within 50 feet of *my*

Maybe there's not enough information here for me to get an opinion, but I
think it's wrong to withhold praise from a child who is trying. I think
children learn better if people give them credit for trying. But that's not
the same as withholding a green ribbon, is it? Maybe the ribbon was a prize
for *succeeding*, which is different and higher-level than *trying*.

I have an ax to grind here because I went to a private school where the idea
of "entitlement" was in fashion. They had the idea that school should be fun
and that kids were fragile and delicate and had to be coaxed. It was a
disaster. They praised us all the time over nothing. All we had to do was
show up and not kill each other. They had us stand up together in class and
chant, "I AM somebody! I AM somebody!" IMHO you're nobody if you don't
learn how to accomplish something. What you are is what you do.

I thought school was easy and I was happy to get away with high grades for
doing almost nothing. What a surprise when I got to college, and I had to
take remedial English classes because basically I was illiterate, after being
an honor student in high school. The high school diploma was worthless. I
started college way behind kids who went to tougher schools. It was
humiliating and twice as hard to have to go back and learn the high school
work while trying to go to college at the same time. It shouldn't have been
necessary. I wasn't stupid and I could have worked harder when I was
younger. It was partly my fault because I wasn't mature enough to see that I
should push myself, but how many kids won't get away with whatever they can?
The adults needed to take charge and push me more. They were too afraid of
discouraging me if they held me up to some standards.

It was the same in music. We sounded like a riot in hell and the teachers
and parents would clap and tell us how wonderful we were. It was bogus and
we knew it. We didn't get *real* self-respect that way.

I want my kids to go to a school where they give praise *when it's due* but
where they also have some *expectations*. The kids need responsibilities,
not just pats on the head. I think it's actually insulting to a smart kid to
praise a failure and give a prize for it. It's better to explain what's not
right and how to improve it. Otherwise the kid ends up thinking, "I must be
stupid, because they've given up on me. If I had any potential, they'd
expect more from me." Maybe that's not what was going on in this situation
Bill Wright describes (sorry if I'm misreading it, Bill, I don't mean to jump
on you about it), but I think ribbons and prizes should mean something and I
think they should be saved for succeeding, not just for showing up.

Cass Hill
(delurking with flameproof moon suit)

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