What is your merit system? Are we materialistic?

Posted by: Nannerl Mozart

What is your merit system? Are we materialistic? - 12/27/12 06:27 AM

I remember reading an interview, a teacher in Argentina was being interviewed and he was asked how does teaching music in Argentina differ to teaching music in the US? He answered very tactfully yet emphatically that he believe in the US and I'm sure he was referring to the rest of the western world, teachers are materialistic. Materialistic in the sense that we give students lollies and stickers rather than hugs and smiles. It's obvious he comes from a country were it is culturally acceptable for male teachers to be hugging students, but it made me think a lot.

As a novice teacher, even though I could get away with it - being female and all, I generally don't hug students. There are exceptions to this - e.g. before a recital one of my students ran up to me, she gave me a nervous hug. I give them high fives and stickers. The stickers are normally earned. If something is really hard to learn and really boring to learn (e.g. technique) I even said I'd get him/her a present if he/she can get it right. My mum who works in childcare went off at me, she told me that was a bribe and I felt bad for bribing the kid ... but I reasoned and said it was a reward, it was incentive, not blackmail.

Anyway, what is your merit system? Do you ever stop and wonder if it's bribery or materialistic at all?
Posted by: Beth_Frances

Re: What is your merit system? Are we materialistic? - 12/27/12 07:05 AM

I give stickers, and kids love them. I've been thinking about this too. One of my students learns a few instruments (she has lessons in violin, flute, piano, african drumming and singing), and whilst piano gets 10 minutes a week look in on a good week, she tells me she regularly practices flute. This is because the flute teacher has a system where if they practice for 60 minutes a week (broken up however they like) they get a sticker, and once they get 20 stickers they get to choose a reward out of a box filled with trinketty items like pretty erasers etc. This sounds like not much financial outlay to get non-practicers to the piano bench. But then I wonder at the niggling details, like when you *know* the kid hasn't practiced but their parent has signed off that they have...
Posted by: Beth_Frances

Re: What is your merit system? Are we materialistic? - 12/27/12 07:14 AM

Oh, and I hug kids, but only returning hugs, not intitiating them. I had a kid relay to me that her mother had said I "hug her too much" (this kid is EXCEPTIONALLY huggy, to the point of having made me uncomfortable numerous times, so it was one of those "say what?!" moments) which made me even more cautious with hugging kids. Some parents don't like it.
Posted by: TimR

Re: What is your merit system? Are we materialistic? - 12/27/12 07:44 AM

I wonder if there is a more direct difference in the timing of reward.

We all know it takes years of work for a rewarding level of skill to develop.

Weeks of work to earn a sticker. A perfect piece gets you a hug.

But the science tells us rewards become less effective after 0.8 seconds. Dog trainers have realized this, and the modern ones are doing amazing things with marker training, using a clicker or voice to reward the dog immediately on correct behavior or sometimes just a move in the direction of correct behavior, long before he could eat a treat.

Maybe the point of the Argentinian system is just that the smile or touch is instant rather than delayed.
Posted by: malkin

Re: What is your merit system? Are we materialistic? - 12/27/12 08:29 AM

Positive reinforcer: a stimulus, presented contingently following a target behavior, which results in an increase in the rate, frequency, or intensity of the target behavior.

If stickers or hugs increase the behavior that you want, then they are reinforcers. Otherwise, they're just stickers and hugs.
Posted by: TimR

Re: What is your merit system? Are we materialistic? - 12/27/12 09:04 AM

Originally Posted By: malkin
Positive reinforcer: a stimulus, presented contingently following a target behavior, which results in an increase in the rate, frequency, or intensity of the target behavior.


I suspect that a significant component of master teachers is their unconscious reinforcement of precursors to the target behaviors.

I think Morodienne would call that Fractional Anticipatory Goal Response.
Posted by: Minniemay

Re: What is your merit system? Are we materialistic? - 12/27/12 11:11 AM

I have a big basket of stickers, but I so rarely use them. I have high expectations of my students, but because I lay them out in such a way that they can be successful, I can give them genuine positive reinforcement, and that is better than a sticker any day. They keep coming back to the piano because they can do what is asked, they feel successful and they can enjoy what they are doing -- get some kind of fulfillment. The real prize is the music. They get to make music.
Posted by: Peter K. Mose

Re: What is your merit system? Are we materialistic? - 12/27/12 11:27 AM

Originally Posted By: Minniemay
They keep coming back to the piano because they can do what is asked, they feel successful and they can enjoy what they are doing -- get some kind of fulfillment. The real prize is the music. They get to make music.


Here in three sentences Minniemay has distilled a superb philosophy of piano teaching!
Posted by: keystring

Re: What is your merit system? Are we materialistic? - 12/27/12 11:27 AM

Food for thought. Why merit system at all?
Posted by: MaggieGirl

Re: What is your merit system? Are we materialistic? - 12/27/12 11:30 AM

My daughter's teacher doesn't use stickers. She does "tell it like it is". If she does well in a lesson her teacher will say she did well. That means a lot to my daughter. When she has an off lesson her teacher will say so. My daughter is okay with that because she knows it was an off lesson as well. And that is motivational to do better the next week.
Posted by: AZNpiano

Re: What is your merit system? Are we materialistic? - 12/27/12 12:26 PM

Originally Posted By: keystring
Food for thought. Why merit system at all?

It's not for everyone.

As private piano instructors, we get to pick and choose which method best suits each individual student.

For example, some kids thrive on exams. I send quite a few kids each year to take exams so that they'll feel like they're on the right track. On the other hand, there are kids who are not stimulated enough by exams, so they need higher, more difficult goals. Hence, festivals and competitions. And yet there are kids for whom even exams are too stressful, and they'll quit except that their folks won't let them. What would you do for this last group of kids?
Posted by: keystring

Re: What is your merit system? Are we materialistic? - 12/27/12 01:34 PM

All of these things are extrinsic. There is the wish to learn things because you want to learn them, master them, they intrigue you or whatever. In that case you focus is on the math, the playing, the piece or whatever. When we introduce external things, then the focus shifts away from the thing being learned. A little kid learning to walk who keeps getting up and falling down keeps at it because he wants to walk. Our praise and encouragement may keep him going, but his goal is walking.

Supposing that a student wants to learn to play the piano, and play music on the piano. That is not "passing exams", or "getting praise", or "getting a lollipop". Those are not his goals.

For the person who talked about the teacher saying that this was done well, and this needs work - If you are aiming to play the piano, then you need to know when you're going in the right direction, when you're going off track, and what you need to do to get there. This is a different kind of motivation. Merit things take away form that. And I do think that this kind of motivation is natural to children. Sometimes (often?) it's been taken away from them and then you need carrots.
Posted by: Minniemay

Re: What is your merit system? Are we materialistic? - 12/27/12 01:51 PM

Our society is deploring the entitlement mentality, but we have created our own monster.
Posted by: LoPresti

What is your merit system? Are we materialistic? - 12/27/12 02:05 PM

Originally Posted By: Minniemay
. . . They keep coming back to the piano because they can do what is asked, they feel successful and they can enjoy what they are doing -- get some kind of fulfillment. The real prize is the music. They get to make music.

I believe this is true of those students, of any age, who are destined to become real players. The rest . . . ?

Nannerl Mozart’s reference to the Latin cultures of South America made me think of the Cuban pianist Ruben Gonzalez (Buena Vista Social Club). Here is a gentleman who, in recounting his childhood and learning to play the piano, mentioned that, only after he showed some talent in playing the piano, did his parents arrange for lessons. His parents, as I recall, were also musicians. Could this be important? First he showed he had talent and desire, and THEN was “rewarded” by lessons!

And how about this? (Again, Senõr Gonzalez’ own account): After seven or eight years of taking lessons, his teacher (finally) complimented him by saying that he had good potential, and that he should consider further study to become a professional player.

In his account of his childhood and adolescent learning of the piano, Senõr Gonzalez speaks of his hands, of the eventual purchase of that upright family piano (“I went crazy!”), and of his love for the sound of the music. Strangely absent from this recounting of those days are things like stickers, lollipops, hugs, tests, and competitions.

Personally, I am certain that ALL those rewards (stickers, lollipops, hugs, tests, and competitions) were there - he just neglected to mention them. After all, how else could he have achieved such mastery of the instrument?

Ed
Posted by: Minniemay

Re: What is your merit system? Are we materialistic? - 12/27/12 02:10 PM

Originally Posted By: LoPresti
I believe this is true of those students, of any age, who are destined to become real players. The rest . . . ?


But it's not. That's the thing. My students, by and large, are average.
Posted by: keystring

Re: What is your merit system? Are we materialistic? - 12/27/12 02:16 PM

Originally Posted By: Minniemay
Originally Posted By: LoPresti
I believe this is true of those students, of any age, who are destined to become real players. The rest . . . ?


But it's not. That's the thing. My students, by and large, are average.

Average students can become real players. I read the text differently. And the last omitted line as tongue in cheek.
Posted by: LoPresti

Re: What is your merit system? Are we materialistic? - 12/27/12 02:20 PM

Originally Posted By: keystring
All of these things are extrinsic. There is the wish to learn things because you want to learn them, master them, they intrigue you or whatever. In that case you focus is on the math, the playing, the piece or whatever. When we introduce external things, then the focus shifts away from the thing being learned. A little kid learning to walk who keeps getting up and falling down keeps at it because he wants to walk. Our praise and encouragement may keep him going, but his goal is walking.

Yes! Absolutely! And if the drive and desire "to walk" is not within us - either inherently, or by eventual strong inspiration - then we will only "walk" until the carrots run out, or until we find we no longer like carrots.

Ed
Posted by: Minniemay

Re: What is your merit system? Are we materialistic? - 12/27/12 02:21 PM

And I took it to mean professionals.
Posted by: LoPresti

Re: What is your merit system? Are we materialistic? - 12/27/12 02:34 PM

Originally Posted By: Minniemay
Originally Posted By: LoPresti
I believe this is true of those students, of any age, who are destined to become real players. The rest . . . ?

But it's not. That's the thing. My students, by and large, are average.

Well, maybe they are average, and maybe they are not. Only time will tell WHAT THEY BECOME. Meanwhile, they seem to be learning from their teacher that music, and the making of music, is its own reward. And, as your other post so aptly states, accomplishment carries with it its own reward too.

For me, when I played well, my ears were my reward. That was more than enough.
Posted by: AZNpiano

Re: What is your merit system? Are we materialistic? - 12/27/12 03:31 PM

Originally Posted By: Minniemay
Our society is deploring the entitlement mentality, but we have created our own monster.

I blame the failing public school system.
Posted by: landorrano

Re: What is your merit system? Are we materialistic? - 12/27/12 03:41 PM

Originally Posted By: Nannerl Mozart

As a novice teacher, even though I could get away with it - being female and all, I generally don't hug students.


Hi, you make me think of an anecdote. We had some visitors from Australia a few years ago. My daughter was a little baby, not even a toddler yet. My wife breast-fed the baby at the dinner table, and the Aussies were terribly ill at ease, excusing themselves and trying their best to look away, even the lady. Thinking back to that makes me laugh!

Personally, I cannot fathom the teaching of a musical instrument without a great deal of physical contact between the teacher and the student. A great deal of things can only be transmitted through physical contact. It is be a very intimate relationship, and must be founded on a profound trust.
Posted by: landorrano

Re: What is your merit system? Are we materialistic? - 12/27/12 03:43 PM

Originally Posted By: Nannerl Mozart
he believe in the US and I'm sure he was referring to the rest of the western world


Just like to point out to our Austral lass that Argentina is part of the Western world!
Posted by: TimR

Re: What is your merit system? Are we materialistic? - 12/27/12 04:16 PM

Originally Posted By: LoPresti
Originally Posted By: keystring
All of these things are extrinsic. There is the wish to learn things because you want to learn them, master them, they intrigue you or whatever. In that case you focus is on the math, the playing, the piece or whatever. When we introduce external things, then the focus shifts away from the thing being learned. A little kid learning to walk who keeps getting up and falling down keeps at it because he wants to walk. Our praise and encouragement may keep him going, but his goal is walking.

Yes! Absolutely! And if the drive and desire "to walk" is not within us - either inherently, or by eventual strong inspiration - then we will only "walk" until the carrots run out, or until we find we no longer like carrots.

Ed


That implies there is no value to music education. But think about it, the number of children desperately begging their parents for piano lessons is smaller than the actual number of children taking lessons. The normal piano student is one whose parent sent him, on the theory it was somehow good for him.

That child will not benefit from an internal reward system for some time, if ever. (just like math or chemistry)

I still think the concept of subtle shaping is underappreciated.
Posted by: LoPresti

What is your merit system? Are we materialistic? - 12/27/12 04:24 PM

Originally Posted By: AZNpiano
Originally Posted By: Minniemay
Our society is deploring the entitlement mentality, but we have created our own monster.

I blame the failing public school system.

Here you go, AZN,

The (public) middle school that one of my granddaughters attends was faced with a problem. An unexpectedly high percentage of students were scoring "lower than average" on exams, and in their class studies in general. The school tried a few corrective measures over time, and the problem seemed to get worse. They employed technology, fully utilizing our vast communication network to post homework, for all parents to see (and use??) Things continued to decline, and now this "model" school began to come under the scrutiny of the State Education Department (read: the purse strings.) Obviously, drastic action was needed to reverse this trend.

As quickly as I am posting this note, a solution was devised and implemented! In a flash, kids that were not doing well were fine again. Those who were in danger of failing were now passing. Very few still carried around the stigma of failure. Administratively, the percentages were better than they had been in years. The school was “back on top”! And this absolutely brilliant magic wand? The school simply lowered the passing grade from 65% to 55%! Everybody’s happy.

But it does not end with the high schools! A local community ( 2-year ) college had a similar problem with testing. (You guessed it - they are a “public” institution too.) A distressing number of students were failing exams. Professors and instructors were beginning to look bad. The school’s “rating” was constantly slipping. Something had to be done. They are testing a solution (ironic use of the word) - an alternate method of taking, and grading, exams. It works this way: a student takes an exam in the classroom in the usual way. The exam gets graded by the professor in the usual way. If the student does not do as well as s/he would like, s/he may opt to re-take the exam on-line, at her/his leasure, and from the comfort of her/his own home. The on-line exam gets graded, and the student’s final mark for each exam is the BETTER -- not the average, and not the mean, and not a bending curve, the BETTER -- of her/his two grades. Exam grades are going up - everyone is happy.

I have to stop posting now. I have been busy teaching my dog to bark (with rewards!) He has already mastered going to the bathroom, and is showing marked improvement in wagging his tail . . .

Ed

Posted by: keystring

Re: What is your merit system? Are we materialistic? - 12/27/12 04:29 PM

Originally Posted By: LoPresti

Yes! Absolutely! And if the drive and desire "to walk" is not within us - either inherently, or by eventual strong inspiration - then we will only "walk" until the carrots run out, or until we find we no longer like carrots.

The carrot removes the drive.
Posted by: ezpiano.org

Re: What is your merit system? Are we materialistic? - 12/27/12 05:47 PM

Not sure if this is considered "materialistic":
I have an easy button for my students to use.
Sometimes after we complete a not so easy passage, I will ask them if it is easy or difficult. If they answer easy, then I will let them push the easy button then we will laugh together. If they say not easy, then we will not push the button but play through it again.
Of course I won't ask every time, I only ask if I sense the student is struggling but still cooperative to complete the task.
Is this an okay reward or is this considered "bribe"?
Posted by: currawong

Re: What is your merit system? Are we materialistic? - 12/27/12 07:45 PM

Originally Posted By: landorrano
Hi, you make me think of an anecdote. We had some visitors from Australia a few years ago. My daughter was a little baby, not even a toddler yet. My wife breast-fed the baby at the dinner table, and the Aussies were terribly ill at ease, excusing themselves and trying their best to look away, even the lady. Thinking back to that makes me laugh!
On the basis of my experience I'd say they're not typical.
Posted by: LoPresti

Re: What is your merit system? Are we materialistic? - 12/27/12 07:46 PM

Originally Posted By: TimR
Originally Posted By: LoPresti
Originally Posted By: keystring
All of these things are extrinsic. There is the wish to learn things because you want to learn them, master them, they intrigue you or whatever. In that case you focus is on the math, the playing, the piece or whatever. When we introduce external things, then the focus shifts away from the thing being learned. A little kid learning to walk who keeps getting up and falling down keeps at it because he wants to walk. Our praise and encouragement may keep him going, but his goal is walking.

Yes! Absolutely! And if the drive and desire "to walk" is not within us - either inherently, or by eventual strong inspiration - then we will only "walk" until the carrots run out, or until we find we no longer like carrots.

Ed

That implies there is no value to music education. . .

Hi Tim,

I have been back over KeyString's and my posts, several times, and I do not see where either of us dismiss any value of music education. In fact, both of us are avid advocates of competent, capable teachers personally imparting their knowledge and art.

If I have given the wrong impression, I certainly wish to correct the notion, post haste! Where do you see it?

Ed
Posted by: TimR

Re: What is your merit system? Are we materialistic? - 12/27/12 08:28 PM

Ed,
You implied that the only reward that should be used is the intrinsic reward of individually making music, and that use of what some would call bribery to shape behavior is a bad thing. Basically a student should make music because they feel the inner drive, and it shouldn't be corrupted with reward.

However, many of us feel that there is value in sitting through piano lessons, just as there is for math and chemistry, even if forced, even if bribed.

That's on a macro level.

On a micro level the really good teachers shape good behavior (posture, relaxation, tone, attentiveness, attitude, etc.) with their body language and nonverbal communications. This happens although they're unaware of it and maybe not sure how they're getting results; it happens for the precursors of these behaviors as well.

At least I think they do.

The neurolinguistic programming camp believes you can be much more efficient if you're aware and deliberate and communicating in "real time.' At least they did at one time, I'm not sure if they're around anymore. I've changed careers since then.
Posted by: keystring

Re: What is your merit system? Are we materialistic? - 12/27/12 09:40 PM

I am suddenly totally confused. If there is a belief in intrinsic motivation, then this implies that "there is no value to music education"? How does one lead to the other. It's like:
A: We're running out of milk.
B: So rabbits don't have fur?
Poor example, but I'm saying that I don't get the connection.

I then had to look up "neurolinguistic programming". I read two long articles. What I sort of figured out is that they say people's real motives might ride under the surface, and you can tell what their real thoughts are according to the direction they glance with their eyes when asked leading questions. That's probably not what it is, but it's the only thing I managed to understand.

Something has gone quite astray. How does intrinsic motivation make music education have no value? How does neurolinguistic programming fit into this? I'm genuinely lost.
Posted by: AZNpiano

Re: What is your merit system? Are we materialistic? - 12/27/12 09:57 PM

Originally Posted By: LoPresti
And this absolutely brilliant magic wand? The school simply lowered the passing grade from 65% to 55%! Everybody’s happy.

Oh, that won't solve any problem in California. You'll get maybe 1% of the kids happy by doing that. The whopping failure rate won't even feel a dent.
Posted by: Bobpickle

Re: What is your merit system? Are we materialistic? - 12/27/12 10:46 PM

Originally Posted By: Minniemay
I have a big basket of stickers, but I so rarely use them. I have high expectations of my students, but because I lay them out in such a way that they can be successful, I can give them genuine positive reinforcement, and that is better than a sticker any day. They keep coming back to the piano because they can do what is asked, they feel successful and they can enjoy what they are doing -- get some kind of fulfillment. The real prize is the music. They get to make music.


Superb.

If rewards were to be given out by me in a hypothetical teaching environment, they would conform to a study I read recently (http://artiden.com/motivation/#more-4640) that said what you all likely subconsciously (or consciously) already know - if you give somebody rewards (bribery) in an environment like the piano study, then they'll come to be playing for the extrinsic rewards instead of the real reward, as keystring mentioned. However, if you reward students randomly whilst practicing proper, the motivation is not only increased, but can be kept intrinsic. The wonderful psychology of teaching!

tldr; Surprise rewards motivate people more than anything. And expected rewards unmotivate people.
Posted by: LoPresti

What is your merit system? Are we materialistic? - 12/28/12 12:20 AM

Originally Posted By: TimR
You implied that the only reward that should be used is the intrinsic reward of individually making music, and that use of what some would call bribery to shape behavior is a bad thing. . . . .
However, many of us feel that there is value in sitting through piano lessons, just as there is for math and chemistry, even if forced, even if bribed.

Tim,
All I have to work with is my personal experiences, plus what I see and hear around me. When I was a kid, and I played well, the feeling from that was my reward. When I played not-so-well, that was a big motivator to me. I “hung out” with other musicians, who recognized good playing when they heard it, so that may have been a secondary reinforcement for me.

I have never had youngsters as students, and plead complete ignorance in how to keep the young ones interested and motivated.

Both my children “took piano” for a number of years each. While neither of them still plays, neither one regrets having spent those years “sitting through” lessons. They do not look back on them as a waste of time, or as something they were forced to do. Equally, neither of my kids would say that they received any lasting benefit from those lessons. (Granted, that is a difficult thing to measure.) Each did the lessons for a period of time that felt appropriate for her/him, and then stopped them when the appropriateness disappeared (and much to my disappointment at the time). I can also say with certainty that no amount of stickers or lollypops would have kept my kids sitting through lessons beyond the time when each was done.

Today I have grandchildren. They are congratulated heartily – sometimes profusely! - for doing everyday things that I just take for granted. They are told they are “special” in ways that they are not; told they are very talented in areas where they actually demonstrate very little talent. They are told they are “winners” when they lose the softball game. They are bribed, and cajoled, and rewarded. It seems to me that those around them are keen to promote a false sense of accomplishment. Maybe if enough people say it, the kids will begin to believe it. And once the kids believe it, then they will “act as if . . .”

In spite of it all, these grandchildren actually do excel in areas where they are interested, and at those times WHEN they are interested. Once the interest, the INTERNAL motivation, tapers off, so does the excellent performance.
Posted by: Nannerl Mozart

Re: What is your merit system? Are we materialistic? - 12/28/12 01:27 AM

landorrano I'm with currawong, I've seen many women breastfeed in public in Australia and nobody generally has a problem with it. I guess Australians are close to the English in terms of culture and physical contact. I tend to think that as music teachers there is a degree of personal contact involved in teaching (correcting posture, touching hands, etc) but it's the same sort of physical contact a doctor gives to a patient. And yes, I know Argentina is part of the western world, I don't know how to put it, but I meant teachers in Australia, the US, Canada and the UK - English speaking countries I guess ...

What I find interesting about this thread is it first carried comments about a teacher's personal merit system and also the idea that rewards in the short term are effective ways to reinforce learning.

Minniemay then chimes in with a comment about how the most effective merit system is non-materialistic, students are rewarded with music, with the satisfaction that they can make music. KS backs this up asking why not any merit system, and then a lot of people seem to agree, in an ideal world we don't reward students with stickers, hugs, lollies, whatever you name it - students should love making music.

KS also stated that instilling 'carrots' removes drive and motivation. I agree with this to a degree, I remember having a conversation with an ex-scout, turns out she quit because by the time she hit her teen years she realised that badges meant nothing, they were of no monetary value, the charity work she did for the elderly earned badges... and it was too much work according to her...

Having said that, I think with rewards, you have to remember they are tangible. It might take a little while until a piece really sounds right, in the mean time giving students feedback whether it is in the form of a sticker, hug or praise can be helpful - it shows them that they are on the right track.
Posted by: keystring

Re: What is your merit system? Are we materialistic? - 12/28/12 11:28 AM

Originally Posted By: LoPresti

In spite of it all, these grandchildren actually do excel in areas where they are interested, and at those times WHEN they are interested. Once the interest, the INTERNAL motivation, tapers off, so does the excellent performance.

I wouldn't want it to stay at that either. I guess everything in life is a balance. The thing I would not want is where someone only follows his inner muse or impulses. There is also choosing involved, and some of that choosing involves things that you may not like to do and that you do not find interesting. I wonder if I can explain this better.

A child might not like spelling, practicing reading, or arithmetic very much. They may not be "interesting". But he also knows that if he wants to be independent like adults, he has to learn to do these things. So he chooses to do them for that reason. This is also motivation. He learns to read so that he can do it later so that he can be independent. He does not practice reading so that he can get a big number or A beside his name, or a pat on the head. I have deliberately used two different words: "learn to read" and "practice reading".

When it goes with following your inner impulse, something dangerous can happen and we see it in music. People begin when they are feeling "inspired". Then they hit a dry patch where the interest isn't there anymore. They think that it's the inspiration that carried them and made them learn, so they are devastated when the magic is gone. At this point you go to the "choosing" kind of "motivation". You keep practicing (or studying) even when you feel nothing and you think nothing is happening. A bit later that dry spell of practising has accumulated to new skills, and that realization brings in still another kind of motivation. Now you know that what was hard becomes easy, and this is sweet!
Posted by: LoPresti

Re: What is your merit system? Are we materialistic? - 12/28/12 12:21 PM

Originally Posted By: keystring
Originally Posted By: LoPresti
. . . Once the interest, the INTERNAL motivation, tapers off, so does the excellent performance.

I wouldn't want it to stay at that either. I guess everything in life is a balance. The thing I would not want is where someone only follows his inner muse or impulses. There is also choosing involved, and some of that choosing involves things that you may not like to do and that you do not find interesting. I wonder if I can explain this better.

KeyString,
You do not have to explain it to me - I already understand it. But I would like you to explain it to my grandchildren. God knows, I have tried.
Ed
Posted by: MaggieGirl

Re: What is your merit system? Are we materialistic? - 12/28/12 12:27 PM

"Once the interest, the INTERNAL motivation, tapers off, so does the excellent performance."

I look at it differently. When you can do something well, the internal part is fed consistently. It's easy to keep it fed as long as the supply is steady. It's when the meals become farther and fewer that people usually look for something else to feel that feeling. So anyone taking lessons flies through the first book. Eventually though at the 2nd or third book is stops being "easy". The internal reward system goes into shock.

The grind - the "keep working through it" mode has to be taught to most people.

That is why in any undertaking the praise should be on the effort, not the results.
Posted by: TimR

Re: What is your merit system? Are we materialistic? - 12/28/12 02:17 PM

Originally Posted By: MaggieGirl
"Once the interest, the INTERNAL motivation,

That is why in any undertaking the praise should be on the effort, not the results.


I think so, too.

There was a study we talked about here where they paid kids for school. IIRC, the kids who earned money for As or test scores did no better than the control, but the kids who were paid per book read (for the effort, not the result) did considerably better.

Praise should be honest and specific, else it is ineffective and even resented. I've worked for a couple of bosses recently who gave very general praise "you're hard working and competent and doing great" that could have been read off a hallmark card without meeting us. But his complaints were detailed and specific "that's the third time that report was late and twice you've used the wrong format." One approach is perceived as more genuine than the other!
Posted by: keystring

Re: What is your merit system? Are we materialistic? - 12/28/12 02:38 PM

I am always more interested in first-hand long term experience with students, and am leery of studies and experiments. For example, the results of students being paid per read book being "better" --- what kinds of results meaning what? These things are based on statistics, charts being filled in.

I worked in the school system, and I worked with students one-on-one afterward, and I also applied principles based on that in homeschooling. I did not like what I saw with my grade two's when I first taught some decades ago, and I did not like what I had to undo in the schooled children I helped. I also watched in frustration as a very bright, very motivated young man was DE-motivated and close to despair because of the 'motivating' things that were being implemented in his school.

If anyone advocates this or that approach, I'd be interested in knowing whether they have applied / are applying it in teaching, or if they have just read about it.
Posted by: LoPresti

Re: What is your merit system? Are we materialistic? - 12/28/12 02:38 PM

Originally Posted By: MaggieGirl
That is why in any undertaking the praise should be on the effort, not the results.

Originally Posted By: TimR
I think so, too.

There was a study we talked about here where they paid kids for school. IIRC, the kids who earned money for As or test scores did no better than the control, but the kids who were paid per book read (for the effort, not the result) did considerably better.

So, they ARE winners when they lose the softball game! And all along I thought it was the other way around . . .

The cynical part of me asks, "Were the number of books read self-reported, or did someone actually verify that the work of reading was done?"

Ed
Posted by: keystring

Re: What is your merit system? Are we materialistic? - 12/28/12 02:48 PM

Originally Posted By: LoPresti

The cynical part of me asks, "Were the number of books read self-reported, or did someone actually verify that the work of reading was done?"

It doesn't matter, because reading is not about numbers but content, thinking, and interest. In fact, if a student or child of mine won by reading more books than anyone else I would consider that to be failure.
Posted by: LoPresti

Re: What is your merit system? Are we materialistic? - 12/28/12 02:53 PM

Upon reflection, I would like to read books for money. Could someone (anyone!) put me in contact with the treasurer manager of such a study?

I contacted the New York Times Book Review division several years ago, asking for the same information, and hoping to secure the same type of arrangement. I have not heard back from them yet . . .
Posted by: landorrano

Re: What is your merit system? Are we materialistic? - 12/28/12 03:24 PM

Originally Posted By: Nannerl Mozart
landorrano I'm with currawong, I've seen many women breastfeed in public in Australia and nobody generally has a problem with it.


All the better!

About the "western world", I understand what you mean now. As an aside, though, I can say that in France the idea of motivating students with stickers and the like is close to, if not completely, unknown. I do know one piano teacher, however, who gives her students a hard candy after lessons; I have never interpreted that as a reward but simply as an expression of her affection for kids, a kind of a way to say to them "I know who you are, Kiddo", a kind of a wink of the eye that escapes the parents' radar.

In France, if there were a discussion among teachers as to whether one ought to give from time to time a little hug or say something nice to a student, the subject of the discussion wouldn't be about how to motivate students. The subject would be about a teacher who has difficulty in his relations with kids ands who needs help in this respect.
Posted by: landorrano

Re: What is your merit system? Are we materialistic? - 12/28/12 03:29 PM

Originally Posted By: Nannerl Mozart
I remember having a conversation with an ex-scout, turns out she quit because by the time she hit her teen years she realised that badges meant nothing, they were of no monetary value, the charity work she did for the elderly earned badges... and it was too much work according to her...



OK. But that is normal, isn't it? I mean, kids grow up, things that seem meaningful suddenly seem stupid, bogus ... but that doesn't change that they truly seemed meaningful and that beyond that they truly were meaningful.
Posted by: landorrano

Re: What is your merit system? Are we materialistic? - 12/28/12 03:48 PM

Originally Posted By: LoPresti

I contacted the New York Times Book Review division several years ago, asking for the same information, and hoping to secure the same type of arrangement. I have not heard back from them yet . . .


Hang in there P-Lo, maybe in 2013!
Posted by: PianoStudent88

Re: What is your merit system? Are we materialistic? - 12/28/12 07:53 PM

Originally Posted By: keystring
Originally Posted By: LoPresti

The cynical part of me asks, "Were the number of books read self-reported, or did someone actually verify that the work of reading was done?"

It doesn't matter, because reading is not about numbers but content, thinking, and interest. In fact, if a student or child of mine won by reading more books than anyone else I would consider that to be failure.

You would consider it a failure for a child to read a lot? I don't understand.
Posted by: keystring

Re: What is your merit system? Are we materialistic? - 12/28/12 08:23 PM

Originally Posted By: PianoStudent88

You would consider it a failure for a child to read a lot? I don't understand.

No. Let me try to explain. If you are competing or trying to earn points in one of these schemes, then the more books you go through, the better. If you go through simple short books with easy vocabulary and the typical predictable plot - good guy wins, bad guy gets defeated - then you can chock up lots of books. A thicker book with heavier vocabulary and more complex structure takes longer. If you are reading something thought provoking that makes you ponder then it takes even longer to go through that book. Supposing that you read something that makes you want to research things, write down your own ideas, or discuss ideas? You'll only be able to read a few books, or maybe even one.

When I ponder these various scenarios, I would prefer the latter for any student or child of mine. But it is the former that will get rewarded by a tally of number of books "read". Something deeper is lost. What does "reading" mean? Is it just glossing over meaning and devouring as many words as possible? That's why I used "go through" instead of "read" for the first scenarios.

You may want to think of your music studies. You probably want depth and substance. If we want kids to read, are we giving them things that are meaningful? Are we compensating for poor material and poor teaching approaches in mass education be rewarding something simplistic like zipping through books? I'd like a child to really read.

Addendum:
This also goes toward motivation. Reading should be for the purpose of being entertained, learning things, exploring ideas. This is also a personal dialog between you and the book. It is your activity and it is meaningful. If it becomes something where you please others by doing it, where the quality of your activity or the quality of the books you are reading don't matter, that is an empty affair.
Posted by: malkin

Re: What is your merit system? Are we materialistic? - 12/28/12 09:21 PM

You might be interested in this book:
Punished by Rewards
Alfie Kohn

http://www.alfiekohn.org/books/pbr.htm
Posted by: keystring

Re: What is your merit system? Are we materialistic? - 12/28/12 09:43 PM

Originally Posted By: malkin
You might be interested in this book:
Punished by Rewards
Alfie Kohn

http://www.alfiekohn.org/books/pbr.htm

It looks interesting. smile
Posted by: PianoStudent88

Re: What is your merit system? Are we materialistic? - 12/28/12 09:51 PM

keystring, thank you for explaining. I don't think of "most books read" as necessarily being synonymous with "only short, simple books read.". But I haven't seen these programs in operation to know how they usually turn out.

For the parallel with music studies, I'm not so sure that the comparison so obviously shows that trying to encourage children to read a lot of books by counting them is wrong. Elissa Milne has recently written, approvingly, on her blog about a challenge for piano students to learn forty pieces in a year.

Perhaps counting is a second-best measure, but I don't think it's necessarily bad.
Posted by: Nannerl Mozart

Re: What is your merit system? Are we materialistic? - 12/28/12 10:39 PM

KS, have you ever heard that quantity means quality? There is a challenge going around teachers, they intend to implement the Hal Leonard forty pieces in a year and quite a few teachers agree that this is not a bad idea. Depth and substance doesn't always have to come in big lengthy pieces, you can still learn a lot from reading lots of two page pieces.
Posted by: LoPresti

Re: What is your merit system? Are we materialistic? - 12/28/12 11:56 PM

Originally Posted By: Nannerl Mozart
KS, have you ever heard that quantity means quality? There is a challenge going around teachers, they intend to implement the Hal Leonard forty pieces in a year and quite a few teachers agree that this is not a bad idea. Depth and substance doesn't always have to come in big lengthy pieces, you can still learn a lot from reading lots of two page pieces.

"Depth and substance", it seems to me, would come from WHAT is being (learned or read or played); and from HOW WELL it is being (learned or read or played).

KeyString can write for herself, obviously, but her complaint about the "contest format" is that it may reward skimming the pages of many books, as opposed to reading for getting the most out of a book or two.

Is there intrinsic value in "reading" a large volume of works in a compressed time? Exposure: One can practice speed-reading with books, and can work on sight-reading with music. Beyond that, QUALITY that you mention suffers, naturally.

Do you know if the teachers who are subscribing to this Hal Leonard One-Piece-per-Week program are implementing it to solve (a) specific problem(s) with certain of their students?

Ed
Posted by: keystring

Re: What is your merit system? Are we materialistic? - 12/29/12 12:09 AM

Originally Posted By: Nannerl Mozart
KS, have you ever heard that quantity means quality?

No, I haven't. smile
Originally Posted By: Nannerl Mozart

There is a challenge going around teachers, they intend to implement the Hal Leonard forty pieces in a year and quite a few teachers agree that this is not a bad idea.

The fact that a group of people have decided something like this is not a bad idea does not tell me much. I am actually aware of this venture. The teaching ideas behind it are that students need to be exposed to a variety of music in order to build up their experience. It is also to counter an alarming tendency to only teach 3 or 4 pieces a year for the purpose of getting high grades in exams. 40 pieces a year is less than one piece a week, or if there are 2 small pieces assigned at a time, each piece has two weeks preparation time. It also depends on what is done with the pieces, and what is being taught.
Originally Posted By: Nannerl Mozart

Depth and substance doesn't always have to come in big lengthy pieces, you can still learn a lot from reading lots of two page pieces.

The size of a piece (or book) was never an issue. The consideration is what we put into things and thus what we get out of them.

An additional thought is that if the teachers decide to teach 40 pieces in a year, that is not the goal they are presenting to the students. The goal the student aims for is to play the piece well, learn the particular thing about it that the teacher introduces, and similar things. The goals you set for yourself in your learning activity will influence outcome. If you are in a race to read as many books as possible, chances are that you will not pay as much attention to the content, or learn from them the same way if something can be learned.

Originally Posted By: Pianostudent88

Elissa Milne has recently written, approvingly, on her blog about a challenge for piano students to learn forty pieces in a year.

I haven't read that blog entry but heard about it. You could call me a fan of Elissa Milne and I have a great deal of respect for her. I know that she is also about exploration, depth, enjoyment. Even her small pieces have a lot of thought behind them, and their simplicity belies the substance they hold. 40 pieces a year of explored pieces sounds good to me.
Posted by: landorrano

Re: What is your merit system? Are we materialistic? - 12/29/12 04:59 AM

Originally Posted By: keystring
In fact, if a student or child of mine won by reading more books than anyone else I would consider that to be failure.


Would you really? That sounds terribly hard, to me.

Encouraging kids to read a lot sounds good to me. Regardless of whether they read short books or long ones, good ones or bad ones, whether they read closely or just chew 'em up and spit 'em out. Even comic books. Doesn't matter, reading is great, let's hope kids get the taste for it young and we'll see where it takes them. Anything that helps a kid along on this way has merit, in my opinion.

I'd be willing to bet, furthermore, that a teacher who has the silly idea of a "read the most books during winter vacation" contest is a great, great teacher, and that he knows how to handle the thing with a great deal of humour.
Posted by: AZNpiano

Re: What is your merit system? Are we materialistic? - 12/29/12 05:09 AM

Originally Posted By: landorrano
Encouraging kids to read a lot sounds good to me. Regardless of whether they read short books or long ones, good ones or bad ones, whether they read closely or just chew 'em up and spit 'em out. Even comic books. Doesn't matter, reading is great, let's hope kids get the taste for it young and we'll see where it takes them. Anything that helps a kid along on this way has merit, in my opinion.

Of course, you as the parent need to monitor the materials being read, just to make sure they are age- and content-appropriate. And make sure that there's a balance in genres (i.e., don't let the kid read 40 mystery novels and nothing on science, math, and mythology).
Posted by: AZNpiano

Re: What is your merit system? Are we materialistic? - 12/29/12 05:14 AM

Originally Posted By: Nannerl Mozart
KS, have you ever heard that quantity means quality?

I've heard that phrase in context of teaching kids to read books, up to around age 13. Before age 14, experts do advise teachers to encourage kids to read as many books as possible without regards to comprehension or "quality." I actually saw a chart in which the experts say how many millions of words each kid is supposed to read annually, and they chart the numbers by age. I don't remember the exact numbers, but the sheer number of words is staggering, like 2 million words a year for a 12 year old.

Unfortunately, such studies don't take into account the student's home culture. What are the chances that the kids will read books if their parents don't read, or can't read?
Posted by: Nannerl Mozart

Re: What is your merit system? Are we materialistic? - 12/29/12 07:07 AM

Originally Posted By: AZNpiano
Originally Posted By: Nannerl Mozart
KS, have you ever heard that quantity means quality?

I've heard that phrase in context of teaching kids to read books, up to around age 13. Before age 14, experts do advise teachers to encourage kids to read as many books as possible without regards to comprehension or "quality." I actually saw a chart in which the experts say how many millions of words each kid is supposed to read annually, and they chart the numbers by age. I don't remember the exact numbers, but the sheer number of words is staggering, like 2 million words a year for a 12 year old.

Unfortunately, such studies don't take into account the student's home culture. What are the chances that the kids will read books if their parents don't read, or can't read?


I do wonder about that myself as well. The thing is, my parents never read to me... I loved stories are a six year old and then when I was seven I started to read a lot on my own. My brother never had an interest in reading so my parents tried reading to him.

I sometimes wonder with books, this is going totally over the OP but as adults, we might be depriving ourselves of pictures. I started to read children's picture books last year just because I was involved in a kids music concert project and after a few books, I actually felt overwhelmed by all the pictures. The pictures felt like they were overstimulating. It makes you think...

Anyway, as far as music goes, I've heard the same idea expressed - reading/listening and learning several pieces that are in the same style, or by the same composer normally brings more quality to the piece being learned.

Anyway, I've noticed this thread kind of went into a tangent... I couldn't help but wonder when students are rewarded - when a piece is done and polished and the student 'passes/moves on' or during the learning process - if the student shows that s/he practiced and worked adequately. Everybody here seems to agree that material rewards and merit schemes ideally shouldn't happen in a studio.
Posted by: keystring

Re: What is your merit system? Are we materialistic? - 12/29/12 09:03 AM

Originally Posted By: AZNpiano

I've heard that phrase in context of teaching kids to read books, up to around age 13. Before age 14, experts do advise teachers to encourage kids to read as many books as possible without regards to comprehension or "quality." I actually saw a chart in which the experts say how many millions of words each kid is supposed to read annually, and they chart the numbers by age. I don't remember the exact numbers, but the sheer number of words is staggering, like 2 million words a year for a 12 year old.

Unfortunately, such studies don't take into account the student's home culture. What are the chances that the kids will read books if their parents don't read, or can't read?

I want to stop at: "experts" advising teachers, which then follows with the studies that these "experts" base themselves on. Good grief, AZN, you are a teacher yourself!

As a primary teachers we got training in teaching young children in these areas, in educational psychology (how different ages learn), etc. After that comes the observation of hundreds or thousands of children on a daily basis while working with them, their parents, and specialists who are brought in. Can this compare with someone involved in hypothesis sending out studies that result in some statistical results to a number of questions? This one phrase really struck me: "experts do advise teachers" --- The teacher IS the expert. I mean, a teacher is a trained professional in the specific field of teaching that age level.

When you teach grades (K) 1 - 3, you are setting up everything. Later when I tutored older kids, very often their difficulties in the higher grades stemmed from what they didn't learn in the first grades. When you teach reading, there are a lot of different things going into that, which as a teacher keeps in mind. At the same time you are teaching other subjects, and you are also teaching things such as thinking, planning, research, attitude. These will go into your reading. There is also the notion of "integration", meaning that the subjects flow into each other. As a simple example, if you learn about electricity or energy in science, you may have the invention of electricity in history, math. gets involved, and you are reading and writing about it - which gets you into spelling and vocabulary.

So as teachers teaching at the level where reading skills are being set up, we look at a larger picture. That's what I had in mind when I wrote my comment which in some quarters seem to have been taken literally.

I don't think that any trained teacher needs to be told by an "expert" that lots of reading is important. At the same time, that advice is much narrower than what teaching reading involves. These things look impressive to the general public which wants to be assured that something is being done, in terms that they can understand.
Posted by: keystring

Re: What is your merit system? Are we materialistic? - 12/29/12 09:07 AM

Anyhow, this was supposed to link back to music and having a bigger picture there, and somehow that's lost and I can't find my way back either.
Posted by: TimR

Re: What is your merit system? Are we materialistic? - 12/29/12 10:22 AM

Originally Posted By: Nannerl Mozart
Everybody here seems to agree that material rewards and merit schemes ideally shouldn't happen in a studio.


What?
I for one strongly disagree.
Posted by: keystring

Re: What is your merit system? Are we materialistic? - 12/29/12 10:31 AM

The problem is "either or" and also the idea of having any single system in place. Private teaching is interactive between a teacher and a student. Music teaching involves multiple facets of things. As a student grows, needs change. No single thing can apply all the time. At the same time private teaching does not involve a huge institution of hundreds of thousands of students who have to be tagged and followed so "systems" aren't needed.

I have had an overall sense since the start of this thread of things being backward. You don't start with a structure or methodology. You start with teaching goals, and then you see what you need to do to reach those goals. In fact, when writing up a classical lesson plan, it starts with Aims - Objectives. We move toward goals. Even kids do that on their own: become good at playing baseball, learn to hit a ball with a bat, learn how to beat your enemy in a video game. Goals equate motivation. How the heck do you learn anything if you aren't aiming at a goal. The goal shouldn't be secondary but primary. You don't learn to have good timing in order to earn a sticker: you learn to have good timing because you want to have good timing because then your music sounds good and that's a cool feeling.

So say that I want to learn to have good timing in this piece. Maybe I can reward myself with something when I've done what I need to do to get there. Most of us adults do that. If these things are secondary instead of primary, it makes all the difference in the world.

I don't know if I'm able to bring across what I'm seeing.
Posted by: landorrano

Re: What is your merit system? Are we materialistic? - 12/29/12 01:57 PM

Originally Posted By: keystring
We move toward goals. Even kids do that on their own: become good at playing baseball, learn to hit a ball with a bat, learn how to beat your enemy in a video game.


I think that it is not difficult to understand what you are saying, Keystring. For my part, and as you know, I have mixed feelings about your point of view.

But I think that kids don't do these things on their own. They become good at playing baseball, at hitting a ball with a bat, because they are with others kids. They are trying to be like some kids, trying to show off to others, competing, trying to please their parents, trying to be like their favorite player.

I am of the opinion that there are many of these sorts of things in the apprentissage of a musical instrument as well. After all, music is not less than baseball a social activity, a form of communication, a link between human beings; and in the case of children a relationship between a child and his parents, his teachers, and other kids.

In the context of individual lessons a child learns to have good timing not because he wants to but because he must. It is the teacher who has the objective in mind; sometimes the child is not yet able to understand the objective. Sometimes a teacher may prefer that a student do what he is asked simply because the teacher asks him to do it, to establish his authority with the student, which in my opinion is perfectly reasonable.

That the music itself becomes the main motivation for a student, well that, I believe, takes many, many years of preparation. As with everything in life.
Posted by: keystring

Re: What is your merit system? Are we materialistic? - 12/29/12 05:36 PM

Originally Posted By: landorrano

I think that it is not difficult to understand what you are saying, Keystring.

Your statements actually show that you have not understood what I am saying.
Posted by: Nannerl Mozart

Re: What is your merit system? Are we materialistic? - 12/29/12 11:04 PM

KS, I get where you are coming from. I started this thread not because I believed in merit systems or rewards but because I was curious to know WHAT kind of rewards teachers were implementing and whether teachers believed if they were in anyway materialistic (and I cited a contrasting example of a teacher in Argentina who gave hugs and smiles rather than lollies and stickers). Of course, students don't work for stickers - they work for goals as you stated.
Posted by: keystring

Re: What is your merit system? Are we materialistic? - 12/30/12 12:10 AM

Oh, I'm getting this for the first time:
Originally Posted By: Nannerl Mozart
I started this thread not because I believed in merit systems or rewards but because I was curious to know WHAT kind of rewards teachers were implementing and whether teachers believed if they were in anyway materialistic (and I cited a contrasting example of a teacher in Argentina who gave hugs and smiles rather than lollies and stickers). Of course, students don't work for stickers - they work for goals as you stated.

because your first post has
Originally Posted By: Nannerl Mozart
He answered very tactfully yet emphatically that he believe in the US and I'm sure he was referring to the rest of the western world, teachers are materialistic. Materialistic in the sense that we give students lollies and stickers rather than hugs and smiles. It's obvious he comes from a country were it is culturally acceptable for male teachers to be hugging students, but it made me think a lot.

I think I missed it, because that isn't what I think being materialistic means. If a person cares only for material possessions and has no spiritual values, that's being materialistic. If a teacher gives hugs because then the students will do well in a way that makes him look good and this earns him lots of money, that is materialistic despite the fact that hugs aren't objects. I missed the main point of your question completely. Well, what if someone is hungry? Are you being materialistic if you give him food, but spiritual if you give nice words but let him stay hungry?
Posted by: catpiano

Re: What is your merit system? Are we materialistic? - 01/01/13 09:44 PM

Wow, I never put that much thought into this until I read this thread. I give stickers to my young students at the end of every lesson. It's not really meant to be a reward, just something fun for the kids to look forward to at the end of the lesson, because I know for the little ones it can be hard to sit through a lesson. They get a sticker regardless of whether they practiced, played well, etc. I mostly use them for kids under 9. I remember my childhood teacher giving stickers in this fashion too. It's just a little something that's meant to be fun.

I've had a few cases where I did use stickers as a reward. This idea came recommended to me by my friend who is a special education teacher. I had a couple very young students who were really acting out, not doing anything I told them, and just behaving badly. The system was that if they were "good" (and I decided what that meant each lesson), they got to pick out a sticker and put it on an index card. Every 4 stickers I let them take home the card. It just helped the students work towards a goal - if the goal was to take home their card, and that got them to focus during the lesson, then fine by me.
Posted by: LoPresti

What is your merit system? Are we materialistic? - 01/02/13 01:37 AM

Originally Posted By: catpiano
Wow, I never put that much thought into this until I read this thread. . . . . I've had a few cases where I did use stickers as a reward. . . . . The system was that if they were "good" (and I decided what that meant each lesson), they got to pick out a sticker and put it on an index card. Every 4 stickers I let them take home the card. It just helped the students work towards a goal - if the goal was to take home their card, and that got them to focus during the lesson, then fine by me.

CatPiano,
Welcome to the Forums. Most of the teachers on this particular Forum give a great deal of thought to their craft and their art. That is what makes reading and discussing so interesting and genuinely rewarding.

So now that you have a little chance to think about the topic, how would you transition those “behavior problem kids” from their goal of taking home an index card with stickers, to the goal of practicing and playing well? How would you help them move from focusing on getting a sticker, to focusing upon making music during their lessons?

Ed
Posted by: Nannerl Mozart

Re: What is your merit system? Are we materialistic? - 01/02/13 04:50 AM

http://pianoeducation.org/pnomacch.html - this is where I read the interview - check it out, I did however misinterpret things a little bit. He wasn't saying that stickers were materialistic, but he did call them material things.

I've wondered about my way of working... Lately, I've been trying to find ways to motivate my 9 year old student who has an exam to do. She has been on the same repertoire for a year - there is a lot of work that needs to be done, I feel for her so I've implemented a few projects - to record her playing her pieces and to burn it onto a CD, to design some simple album art, burn a few copies and allow her to sign and distribute to family members. I also arranged for her to play at a concert + afternoon tea at a hospital... I'm trying to spice things up but I know that things are truly boring for her and so I do find myself saying this "if you can get x,y and z done for this week then I'll give you three stickers" ... bribery, poor positive reinforcement, or maybe she's not working towards a goal but working for a sticker ...
Posted by: keystring

Re: What is your merit system? Are we materialistic? - 01/02/13 08:46 AM

Originally Posted By: LoPresti

So now that you have a little chance to think about the topic, how would you transition those “behavior problem kids” from their goal of taking home an index card with stickers, to the goal of practicing and playing well? How would you help them move from focusing on getting a sticker, to focusing upon making music during their lessons?

The first question I would ask this teacher is, "Is it working?" If it is working, then maybe look more closely into what is working. If that seems fine, then I would not ask "What would you do instead?", but if I want to learn more, "Why is it working?" I will qualify what I am saying. I think there is something more going on than an arbitrary mindless giving out of stickers. As follows:

During my internship, I worked with one fantastic teacher who told me something invaluable. "Don't catch them doing something bad. Catch them doing something good." What is being described is doing exactly that, and this is the principle that we should be looking at rather than what form this recognition is taking. A child in trouble is constantly being told what he is doing wrong, constantly lectured, and maybe being punished for being bad. The very lack of confidence that this creates just pushes the cycle further. If you bring attention to anything the student is doing well, this can have a spin-off.

I taught in a school in a rural district which was a problem area. The parents were in gangs, some families didn't have running water and their kids smelled or were hungry; the gangs in the district were mirrored in the school yard. I used this principle a lot. I didn't use stickers, but if I had, it would have been for the same kinds of things that I recognized verbally. Little Mary, who was constantly misbehaving and was a troubled youngster, picked up her pencil ready to poke her classmate in the back, so I say, "It is wonderful to see Mary getting ready to write out her spelling words." and with eyes on her, Mary sets to work - has been praised - gets better grades because she did the spelling work because she wants more of the praise .... If she starts doing well instead of constantly failing, then she will start having the right motivation for the right reason. But first you have to break her out of that cycle by any means. The problem is not stickers. The problem is the reason for the stickers (or anything else).
Posted by: LoPresti

Re: What is your merit system? Are we materialistic? - 01/02/13 09:33 AM

Originally Posted By: keystring
. . . Little Mary, who was constantly misbehaving and was a troubled youngster, picked up her pencil ready to poke her classmate in the back, so I say, "It is wonderful to see Mary getting ready to write out her spelling words." and with eyes on her, Mary sets to work - has been praised - gets better grades because she did the spelling work because she wants more of the praise .... If she starts doing well instead of constantly failing, then she will start having the right motivation for the right reason. . .

"Oh, look: Bubba has a knife!" With eyes on Bubba, "Bubba is about to make sandwiches for everyone else on the playground. How very thoughtful!"

How does everyone think THAT will work?

(Are we still talking music here?)
Ed
Posted by: keystring

Re: What is your merit system? Are we materialistic? - 01/02/13 10:01 AM

Originally Posted By: Nannerl Mozart
http://pianoeducation.org/pnomacch.html - this is where I read the interview - check it out, I did however misinterpret things a little bit. He wasn't saying that stickers were materialistic, but he did call them material things.

That does make it more complete. There are a number of things here. His own story is that of a self-motivated youngster who started writing out notation at his own initiative when he was still a preschooler. His parents were along for the ride and simply had to provide the resources for that drive he has. The bio that precedes his narrative only talks about his accomplishments as a pianist, unfortunately.

We have a kind of disconnect after that. He talks about the teaching system in his country. There seems to be one set curriculum for all private students. They study the same material in the same order, do the same exams, aim for the same things, regardless of that student's personality, strengths and weaknesses, or personal goals. There is no connection to his own story. Probably because he was so self-motivated, what he was doing naturally simply fit into the system. For example, if the curriculum asks for music theory at some point, he'd be way ahead of the game because he had started that when young. He knows it regardless of what or how things are taught. What about his students, however?

When he compares the "American" system with his, does he have in depth knowledge of both systems, or is he going by general impressions? For one thing, there is no "system" in the US or Canada - nothing organized nationally along one set of rigid lines. A lot of other questions might be asked.

Quote:
Lately, I've been trying to find ways to motivate my 9 year old student who has an exam to do. She has been on the same repertoire for a year - there is a lot of work that needs to be done...

Might this be the problem? The exam, the same repertoire for a year for the sake of the exam? An exam is a pretty empty goal to work toward. What relationship does she have to music? What kinds of things interest her? Could she aim toward the things she is interested in, and make the exam secondary? Might doing other things in music have a spin-off of skills which would indirectly make her do better on her exam pieces? (brainstorming)
Posted by: Minniemay

Re: What is your merit system? Are we materialistic? - 01/02/13 10:51 AM

Why would a 9 yr old be motivated to practice material they've had for a year????

This makes me pull out my hair.
Posted by: The Monkeys

Re: What is your merit system? Are we materialistic? - 01/02/13 03:03 PM

Finally, I read through the thread (roughly)! Do I get a sticker?

Quantity and quality go hand in hand:
Without quantity, there would be no quality.
Just like most of members here don't believe working on 3-4 exam pieces a year would not build a solid foundation. Reading a couple books only, however deep, would not get you very far. There must be a quantity as the base to build up quality.

Without quality, quantity has little meaning.
It is useless to know a little bit of everything and not good at anything. You won't be progressing at the rate you should if you play many pieces a year but not polishing any of them.

It would be an art of find the correct balance, many pieces to explore, keep a student interested and build the foundations. A few pieces to polish to continually raise the bars.

Our learning progress, on any subject, is typically spiral, like climbing a mountain, you don't go from bottom to the top through a direct line. You go around the rocks and deep hills, each step gets you closer to the top.

As of the stickers and hugs or the stars on the wall, I don't see they hurt as long as we can afford them. However we motivate ourselves internally, we all like external recognition, don't we?

I like to give my kids stickers, fake tattoos, occasionally hot wheels and lots of hugs. The genuine smile on their faces make my day.
Posted by: landorrano

Re: What is your merit system? Are we materialistic? - 01/02/13 04:33 PM

Originally Posted By: Nannerl Mozart
http://pianoeducation.org/pnomacch.html - this is where I read the interview


An interesting fellow, surely. Several of his remarks that I remark:

"I consider her my musical mother."

"Perhaps the most enjoyable thing about performing and teaching music is to have discovered things about myself - how I function, how I think, how I feel, and, most importantly, what I have to do and change to be a better performer, a better teacher and a better person."

"Music doesn’t make people smart (as claimed by some) but makes people aware of themselves and their possibilities, learning how to focus and how to be disciplined."

"Students are first human beings, then pianists and musicians, so the human aspect is crucial for the development of a great musician."

"I recommend to my students to sing their music. The voice is perhaps the most flexible instrument, the one that allows the most variables in phrasing, and it is within us!"
Posted by: landorrano

Re: What is your merit system? Are we materialistic? - 01/02/13 04:50 PM

Originally Posted By: Nannerl Mozart
I know that things are truly boring for her


Is this true? Than you have to surprise the little lass! For example, at her next lesson, don't do anything that you normally do and that she might expect ... and have a blast. It'll do her good, and perhaps more importantly it will do you good, it will get you out of the rut that you are in with her and allow you to get some perspective on the situation. Kids get over things fast and are always ready to move on.

I say "you have to" but of course this is just my opinion.

By the way, this exam is for when? And when you say that you feel for her, do you mean that this is all over her head?
Posted by: bolt

Re: What is your merit system? Are we materialistic? - 01/03/13 09:17 PM

Originally Posted By: Nannerl Mozart
I've wondered about my way of working... Lately, I've been trying to find ways to motivate my 9 year old student who has an exam to do. She has been on the same repertoire for a year - there is a lot of work that needs to be done...[snip]...I know that things are truly boring for her


Sorry to add on after you already received some comments on this, but I also noticed this as I read through the thread. That situation happened to me as a child. I was the one who wanted the piano lessons, originally. But at some point it turned into working on the same repertoire for a year and I grew to really hate the lessons and quit the whole thing. Well, there was perhaps a little more to it than that but I do have my doubts about the approach of forcing a child - or even anyone - to work on the same material for so long.

Wouldn't it be better to drop the pieces (not as a failure mind you) and move to some new material, maybe at a slightly easier level? How important is it to pass the next exam this year as opposed to enjoying playing?
Posted by: Nannerl Mozart

Re: What is your merit system? Are we materialistic? - 01/04/13 07:16 AM

Quote:
Might this be the problem? The exam, the same repertoire for a year for the sake of the exam? An exam is a pretty empty goal to work toward. What relationship does she have to music? What kinds of things interest her? Could she aim toward the things she is interested in, and make the exam secondary? Might doing other things in music have a spin-off of skills which would indirectly make her do better on her exam pieces? (brainstorming)


Quote:
Why would a 9 yr old be motivated to practice material they've had for a year????

This makes me pull out my hair.
_________________________


I agree, I don't like the exam system, but here is the situation: The teacher who taught her before she taught me handed her over to me before she stopped teaching. She taught in accordance to what a lot of piano teachers do in Australia - teach 3-4 pieces a year, teach a few scales and get the student to sit for the exam. It's a common way that teachers do it. It's probably why Tim Topham and Elisa Milne have decided to blog about it speaking against this approach - I can't agree with them more.

The exam, for this nine year old is only a month away, even though she's been on these pieces for a year, there is a lot of stuff that we still need to do (learn the extra) and there seems to be a big terrible chunk missing in her technique as well as her musicality. She wants to do the exam so do her parents.

Quote:
Is this true? Than you have to surprise the little lass! For example, at her next lesson, don't do anything that you normally do and that she might expect ... and have a blast. It'll do her good, and perhaps more importantly it will do you good, it will get you out of the rut that you are in with her and allow you to get some perspective on the situation. Kids get over things fast and are always ready to move on.


I set her a spy-message inspired piano adventure task. Basically one of her parents read out a challenge every morning about what she needs to practice, these daily challenges are in sealed envelopes and she can't open them before the day she is meant to do them, only her parents can ... If she fulfills her mission for the day, she can move to the next day (the next day's challenge is in another sealed envelope). This was an idea I gleaned from Philip Johnston's book - The Dynamic Studio. After the whole week, if she does all her tasks then shows them to me (I told her on the lesson - it's a show down) then there is a grand prize. I felt bad about the grand prize thing, but then I though - she worked for it, she earned it after a hard week of challenges. She expressed a lot of enthusiasm for it she really loves it.

I do have lots of fun stuff planned for this girl once the exam is over. I just hope she can stick it out till then - in the mean time she is learning one new piece...
Posted by: Bobpickle

Re: What is your merit system? Are we materialistic? - 01/05/13 05:12 PM

a somewhat related journal entry by Jane Magrath on how to praise students: http://www.nxtbook.com/nxtbooks/clavier/companion_20110910/#/10
Posted by: TimR

Re: What is your merit system? Are we materialistic? - 01/06/13 05:04 PM

That's an interesting article, and aligns with some of my thinking.

One thing it makes clear is that reinforcement, and specifically praise, does have a powerful effect in shaping behavior. So properly done it can be of great use to a teacher.

But it needs to be soon, genuine, and very specific, and there are possible unintended consequences.

Praise when there hasn't been effort seems likely to me to just produce superstitious learning.

(I did an experiment last week, I had a day off from work and didn't feel like practicing all day. <g> I brought a soccer ball up from the basement and set it on the living room floor. My dog is a bit shy and was reluctant to enter the room, and when she did avoided the soccer ball. I got out a bowl of treats and a clicker, and started rewarding her when her head moved in the direction of the ball. I shaped her behavior from a partial head turn to walking up to the ball she'd previously feared and nosing it for the reward. It took about five minutes. The reward was given only for behaviors that were relevant, and was given within half second of her doing what I wanted (the advantage of marker training.)

Now, if I had not tied the reward to anything specific, but just clicked and treated every 45 seconds or whatever, I still might have taught her something. It is common to find the dog performing something that was accidentally rewarded, like lifting one leg, scratching an ear, etc. Associations get made between behavior and reward that were not intended but just occurred near in time. The psych literature calls this "superstitious learning" and it is VERY effective in humans. And that, I think, is why general praise in an attempt to raise self esteem does not work. But very specific praise can increase the behaviors we want.

Anyone who's done this type of experiment knows another reaction occurred. There was a time when my dog "knew" she could get a treat but did not know exactly what to do for it. This produced a burst of activity. She ran through her repertoire of tricks that earn treats - sit, lie down, spin around, high five, shake hands, etc., frantically. But as the reward continued to be specific only for ball approach behaviors, she got past that and learned the new one. This burst of activity also typically occurs during extinction, when the behavior is no longer being rewarded and is being untrained.)
Posted by: malkin

Re: What is your merit system? Are we materialistic? - 01/06/13 05:55 PM

What if you contingently presented your dog a sticker?

It could increase the target behavior.
It could decrease the behavior.
It could have no effect on the behavior.

A stimulus (sticker, dog treat, verbal praise, or whatever) is only a reinforcer if it increases the rate, frequency or intensity of the target behavior. It is highly dependent on the individual subject.
Posted by: landorrano

Re: What is your merit system? Are we materialistic? - 01/06/13 06:03 PM

Originally Posted By: Nannerl Mozart
I just hope she can stick it out till then


I hope so too ... and that you have a plan ready so that this little lass will quickly forget these dreary last months and rediscover or maybe discover for the first time the joy of studying music.
Posted by: TimR

Re: What is your merit system? Are we materialistic? - 01/06/13 08:40 PM

Originally Posted By: malkin


A stimulus (sticker, dog treat, verbal praise, or whatever) is only a reinforcer if it increases the rate, frequency or intensity of the target behavior. It is highly dependent on the individual subject.


+1!

Exactly. My dog is highly food rewarded; we've known other dogs who couldn't care less. (if she weren't so extremely impulsive we could probably have her pretty well trained. But there's too much terrier in the mix.)

Children are different too, each one has their individual set of reinforcers.

In general though, depending on the age, many children find focused adult attention HIGHLY rewarding. That's one reason they misbehave - nothing gets them attention like misbehavior. When that attention is contingent upon misbehavior, it produces more misbehavior rather than less, even when the adult thinks he is punishing.

Stickers are so delayed. I don't think stickers alone can do enough to maintain behavior even when suited to the child.
Posted by: keystring

Re: What is your merit system? Are we materialistic? - 01/06/13 09:09 PM

Students are not trained pets.
Posted by: Minniemay

Re: What is your merit system? Are we materialistic? - 01/06/13 09:27 PM

Thank you, Keystring. I was wondering if anyone else was thinking that.
Posted by: TimR

Re: What is your merit system? Are we materialistic? - 01/07/13 09:34 AM

Originally Posted By: keystring
Students are not trained pets.


Well, no.

I meant it the other way around.

Pets can be a "teaching moment."

There are some behavioral principles that apply to all lifeforms, and an occasional review does no harm.

I would observe that some here focus more on the practical, and others on what I call the moralistic aspect.

On a moral basis, clearly children should never be bribed; they should work incredibly hard just for the joy of making music. And to avoid a double standard, teachers should never be paid, but should teach incredibly hard for the joy of THAT calling. <g>

And on a practical basis, neither approach seems to work very well. Go figure.

Than again, how many of us actually have well trained pets?
Posted by: malkin

Re: What is your merit system? Are we materialistic? - 01/07/13 09:26 PM

Originally Posted By: keystring
Students are not trained pets.


Exactly.

And if we have no understanding of positive reinforcement in its simplest manifestation, then our application of it to complex subjects (people) performing complex behaviors (like playing the piano) will be completely misguided and ineffective.
Posted by: TimR

Re: What is your merit system? Are we materialistic? - 01/08/13 08:21 AM

Originally Posted By: malkin
Originally Posted By: keystring
Students are not trained pets.


Exactly.

And if we have no understanding of positive reinforcement in its simplest manifestation, then our application of it to complex subjects (people) performing complex behaviors (like playing the piano) will be completely misguided and ineffective.


When I was in grad school I had an internship in an elementary school.

Some of the teachers had very effective classroom management, others had great trouble controlling children. The latter blamed the children, of course, but when these passed to the next grade somehow their behavior magically improved.

For both effective and ineffective teachers, the approach was intuitive. Few had an understanding of what reinforcers maintained what behaviors. To an observer some of it was obvious, and even turned out to be teachable. The best teachers were the most eager to implement suggestions, while the worst insisted the problem was in the kids, not themselves.
Posted by: AZNpiano

Re: What is your merit system? Are we materialistic? - 01/08/13 12:54 PM

Originally Posted By: TimR
The latter blamed the children, of course, but when these passed to the next grade somehow their behavior magically improved.

Perhaps the kids suddenly matured? Over the course of a year, that's highly feasible.

Blame the kids? That's just 25% of the equation. Teacher, administrator, parent, and student make up the education "team" in the public schools. Like the four legs of a table--any one that comes short will make the table wobble. Missing one leg? You get the picture.

This whole "blame the teacher" argument comes from people who are looking for the simplest solutions.
Posted by: MaggieGirl

Re: What is your merit system? Are we materialistic? - 01/08/13 01:04 PM

Originally Posted By: AZNpiano
Originally Posted By: TimR
The latter blamed the children, of course, but when these passed to the next grade somehow their behavior magically improved.

Perhaps the kids suddenly matured? Over the course of a year, that's highly feasible.

Blame the kids? That's just 25% of the equation. Teacher, administrator, parent, and student make up the education "team" in the public schools. Like the four legs of a table--any one that comes short will make the table wobble. Missing one leg? You get the picture.

This whole "blame the teacher" argument comes from people who are looking for the simplest solutions.


I agree. Sadly many kids start out from the gate with a 1,2 or 3 legged table. And secondly, it is rare that an entire class is advanced to the next grade level in the same grouping. Usually they are remixed. Esp when a teacher has a very trying year - is is usually because of the behavior problems of a few and higher needs all around. Spread them out the next year and the new teachers do have an easier time of it.
Posted by: AZNpiano

Re: What is your merit system? Are we materialistic? - 01/08/13 01:15 PM

Originally Posted By: MaggieGirl
I agree. Sadly many kids start out from the gate with a 1,2 or 3 legged table.

And this is why I truly applaud my public school colleagues who go way, way, way over and beyond their call of duty to compensate for:

1) lack of parental supervision or discipline,

2) idiotic administrators, and

3) unruly, undisciplined, "I don't care" kids.

These great teachers are truly overworked and underpaid. I've met many of them. They can work on overdrive and make up for the other 3 missing legs of the table.
Posted by: keystring

Re: What is your merit system? Are we materialistic? - 01/08/13 01:49 PM

Originally Posted By: TimR

When I was in grad school I had an internship in an elementary school.

In what capacity, and what context? Were you in teacher training, or studying management issues, for example?
Quote:

Some of the teachers had very effective classroom management, others had great trouble controlling children. The latter blamed the children, of course, but when these passed to the next grade somehow their behavior magically improved.

For both effective and ineffective teachers, the approach was intuitive. Few had an understanding of what reinforcers maintained what behaviors. To an observer some of it was obvious, and even turned out to be teachable. The best teachers were the most eager to implement suggestions, while the worst insisted the problem was in the kids, not themselves.

I am not familiar with the American system. My teacher training was in Canada. The idea that the teachers you observed did not know about behaviour mod techniques surprises me, because over here that was taught in educational psychology.

My second question was whether effectiveness in the program you were in was measured in terms of management alone, or whether learning was included in the equation?

I also had internships in my teacher training. I studied with 4 different teachers. Later I taught in the system, and still later I worked one-on-one with students, especially in helping with problems. I have some training in learning disabilities, and studied alternative teaching methods after my formal training, which includes visiting schools and talking to teachers.

One of the things I found was that a not insignificant number of student had been well trained in the expected behaviors, and that training was getting in the way of their ability to learn. Yes, you can "train" a child in the way you train a dog, and the child can perform tricks for you. He can regurgitate his times tables without understanding what it means. He can read your face for cues, and give you the expected answer. He can extinguish his natural curiosity and thinking powers, and have difficulty with things that are well within his ability to understand, and that he might even find interesting otherwise.
Posted by: TimR

Re: What is your merit system? Are we materialistic? - 01/08/13 02:58 PM

Originally Posted By: keystring
In what capacity, and what context? Were you in teacher training, or studying management issues, for example?
[quote]Some of the teachers had very effective classroom management, others had great trouble controlling children.


I think I explained poorly, and I certainly did not intend to attack teachers in general, merely point out some aspects of behavior mod approaches.

I was a graduate student in Clinical Psychology (later became a mechanical engineer instead, long story) and worked with the school psychologist (free labor from grad students). I'm also the child of school teachers so may have had more exposure than some, and when my own kids were in public school I was involved with theater and music departments, who always need extra help.

We got referrals from teachers when they had kids with "special needs." And most of these were fairly legitimate cases, but there were a few teachers who consistently referred large numbers of hard to handle children, who hadn't been hard to handle the year before, and didn't continue to be hard to handle the year after. Of course we had to evaluate every child, but these kids rarely ended up fitting our criteria. When we watched classroom interactions we could observe the classic mistakes anyone with a good grounding in behavioral principles shouldn't be making. And we could also see teachers who never made those mistakes, but didn't have an understanding of what they were doing.

I also observed a Distar classroom. That was very intriguing, and I wish I could have spent more time with it. It was a very forceful high paced directed learning environment only used for children with learning difficulties. I always wondered what would happen if you used it with the kids who learned more easily. I don't know if it still exists, I'm mostly out of that field.
Posted by: keystring

Re: What is your merit system? Are we materialistic? - 01/08/13 03:26 PM

I'd like to differentiate between learning and behaviour that adults might find desireable that may not necessarily promote learning. I wrote about it in my previous post.

Meanwhile, when children with "special needs" came in, were the clinical psychologists help with their learning needs, or in some other capacity?

You may have gathered that I am very interested in intrinsic motivation, and preventing and avoiding extinguishing this quality that we are all born with. Therefore training people into behaviours may not necessarily be desireable, depending on how it relates to this.
Posted by: LoPresti

Re: What is your merit system? Are we materialistic? - 01/08/13 03:40 PM

Originally Posted By: keystring
. . . I am very interested in intrinsic motivation, and preventing and avoiding extinguishing this quality that we are all born with. Therefore training people into behaviours may not necessarily be desireable, depending on how it relates to this.

LoPresti's Motto #2: Remain intractable.

It is a quality I have attempted to foster for years - interestingly, with VERY LITTLE REWARD!
Posted by: TimR

Re: What is your merit system? Are we materialistic? - 01/08/13 04:23 PM

Originally Posted By: keystring
I'd like to differentiate between learning and behaviour that adults might find desireable that may not necessarily promote learning. I wrote about it in my previous post.



I didn't miss that, I'm still thinking about it. I'm not sure it's a valid distinction with younger children; but the point that the desired behaviors have to be actually desirable (not just stay out of my hair and leave me alone) is a good one.
Posted by: TimR

Re: What is your merit system? Are we materialistic? - 01/08/13 04:30 PM

Originally Posted By: LoPresti
Originally Posted By: keystring
. . . I am very interested in intrinsic motivation, and preventing and avoiding extinguishing this quality that we are all born with. Therefore training people into behaviours may not necessarily be desireable, depending on how it relates to this.

LoPresti's Motto #2: Remain intractable.

It is a quality I have attempted to foster for years - interestingly, with VERY LITTLE REWARD!


Intractable! Indefatigable! Reminds me of "unrestrainable."

Long ago, in a lifetime that seems far away, in the back wards of a state mental institution, I was called to another ward to subdue a violent patient. When I got there, I saw the problem: he was not only huge, but he'd cut off one of his arms. I was scratching my head trying to figure how to put restraints on him, wondering maybe if I could get a straightjacket out of the museum. They hadn't been used for decades, we used the modern leather cuff and belt systems, but his half arm wasn't going to stay in a cuff. Then he looked at me, shouted "I am NOT unrestrainable!" and came quietly. Problem solved.

Not sure why, Ed, but you reminded me of that incident.
Posted by: LoPresti

What is your merit system? Are we materialistic? - 01/08/13 04:38 PM

Hey, Tim,

What a priceless story! I was hoping for a couple of snickers or giggles out of Motto #2, but now I am holding MY sides!

Ed
Posted by: TimR

Re: What is your merit system? Are we materialistic? - 01/09/13 08:13 AM

Originally Posted By: TimR
Originally Posted By: LoPresti

LoPresti's Motto #2: Remain intractable.

It is a quality I have attempted to foster for years - interestingly, with VERY LITTLE REWARD!


Intractable! Indefatigable! Reminds me of "unrestrainable."



PS, my apologies for including keystring's post in my quote. That was unintentional.

The issue of intrinsic or internal motivation is an important one but unrelated to Ed or my comments.

I'd edit it out but after a few minutes that option disappears.
Posted by: keystring

Re: What is your merit system? Are we materialistic? - 01/09/13 02:03 PM

Thank you, TimR. smile smile
Posted by: malkin

Re: What is your merit system? Are we materialistic? - 01/10/13 09:21 AM

Originally Posted By: TimR
...I also observed a Distar classroom. That was very intriguing, and I wish I could have spent more time with it. It was a very forceful high paced directed learning environment only used for children with learning difficulties. I always wondered what would happen if you used it with the kids who learned more easily. I don't know if it still exists, I'm mostly out of that field...


I'm not closely involved with it, but it seems that Distar waxes and wanes in popularity.

From my rather limited experience with it, it looks like some kids thrive with it and others don't. Same with teachers, some love it-some can't stand it.

At the school where I work with kids with autism, when they are ready to begin academics, our approach is often to 'throw everything and see what sticks' so we'll try a Distar style (site word) reading, and we'll try some phonics and we'll try some whole language activities...and if it doesn't work, we'll try something else.