Student Critically Evaluate A Selected Reading, Reviewi Essay

Length: 3 pages Sources: 1 Subject: Teaching Type: Essay Paper: #84334542 Related Topics: Math
Excerpt from Essay :

¶ … Student Critically Evaluate a Selected Reading, Reviewi

There are a number of highly unusual, but seemingly valuable points raised in this work of Kohn's entitled Punished by Rewards. At various times in this document, the author appears to advocate abandoning a system of grades (yet not necessarily assessment), exploring new ways to teach, and eschewing conventional systems of rewards. What is most interesting about this manuscript is the author also advocates discontinuing the usage of punishments within an educational, classroom setting, and instead appealing to the talents and insight of instructors to create and utilize curriculum that can truly engage the student intrinsically. Many of the author's points appear valid (particularly since a number of them are substantiated by empirical evidence) and have the potential to transform classroom learning and the potential for students to perceive learning in a much more positive way than they currently do.

The most fundamental concept at the core of all of these ideas is that external motivations -- whether in the form of punishments or rewards -- detract from the learning process. According to the author, students should want to learn because they are interested in the subject or a practical application of the subject. Moreover, he claims that when they are motivated positively or negatively, via either rewards or punishments, educators are actually manipulating them. The correlation between manipulation and a long-term devotion and respect for learning is fleeting, as best. By adopting this stance, Kohn is effectively undermining or devaluing some of the most practiced concepts in organized


Pedagogues routinely reward positive behavior while issue punitive measures for negative behavior. This form of manipulation, the author claims, not only damages students but effectively dulls their true appreciation for learning -- which in turn engenders even more damage.

It is also important to understand the ramifications of Kohn's viewpoint regarding the ills of extrinsic motivations. Instead of attempting to manipulate students and coerce them into learning, pedagogues actually need to focus on disseminating the education and learning process in such a way that takes advantage of mankind's innate curiosity for learning. Granted, there will always be subjects and applications of those subjects that simply do not resonate with an individual due to his or her own particular personality type. However, there are some common points of interest, especially for younger students, that educators can utilize to create lessons and curriculum that actually appeals to students. One of the implicit facets of Kohn's arguments is that there is currently a process to which education in the classroom setting adheres. That process is largely based on external motivations. However, it is rigid and unflinching, and requires students to learn the system and adapt to it. The problem, the author reveals, is that even when they do so the system fosters no true respect for or desire to propagate the learning process. If instructors actually work outside of that paradigm, however, by tailoring concepts to typically intrinsic points of humanity and student life, they can engage students much more effectively.

From a practical standpoint, it is necessary to realize that what Kohn is actually advocating is extremely more onerous for educators. They would have to revamp their curriculum and fundamental methods of instruction in order to truly reach students and create lessons that are appreciated by the latter. Doing so would require a lot of work. However, from an equally pragmatic (if not more personal) viewpoint, it appears clear to me that what Kohn is advancing is a student-centric educational perspective that could address many of the problems with the current educational system. Within this work, the author indicates that initially young students have a high interest in learning that decreases the older they get. Not coincidentally, he marks this decrease with the advent of grading -- which is one of the chief forms of external motivations that educators routinely utilize. I can attest to the veracity of this phenomenon within my own life. I recall looking forward to and enjoying school until the second grade, when homework was introduced. After that, I never…

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