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Monday, January 17, 2011

Students say: "I'd rather have a compliment than sex or pizza!"



Photo by Handle with Care
Many people think that kids just aren't motivated by grades any more. Of course, this research released in the New York Times has many people a Buzz.

Students would rather receive a boost to their self esteem over hanging out with friends, sex, or pizza?

Isn't this the generation we've been told to compliment over and over? Many schools have removed awards and made sure everyone gets a trophy. Doesn't this help?

Or are they hungry for genuine, well-earned praise?  Do they want to know that they matter? Do they need meaning?

I don't have the answers here nor do you, but I do know that when I do things in my classroom that it is important for kids to know that the work we are doing matters and that they matter as human beings.

My friend Angela Maiers was telling me about some research she did with school children in some low performing schools in Hawaii.  What did the kids want? They want the teachers to look them in the eyes every day and know their name!

Whatever we've done with this generation they want to know that they matter.

To me, it isn't a matter of giving more cheap compliments that are not sincere but perhaps a matter of finding out what each student is actually good at doing!

Kids can spot a fake. I think the telling part of the article says:

"But Carol Landau, a clinical professor of psychiatry and medicine at Alpert Medical School at Brown University, pointed out that sex and alcohol are readily available on many college campuses and within students’ reach. Their accessibility could explain why students are more motivated to get good grades and positive feedback, which may be harder to come by. “The other rewards are somewhat within their control,” Dr. Landau said. “The self-esteem factors are not.”"
In fact, most adults aren't getting compliments either!

Remember your noble calling, teacher. And work hard this week to take the challenge. I challenge you to make sure you give genuine compliments in an appropriate way at least once every class period. And while you're at it, compliment at least once colleague a day -- that is six per day! Just do it this week and I will too, and let's see what happens.

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