Thursday, July 8, 2010

Ponderable Perspectives

I have been delightfully buried in some of my very favorite books and articles addressing education challenges.  Here are some direct quotes from these readings.  They are nothing short of delectable  morsels worth every moment of pondering. Roll them around in your head like you would a fine wine on your tongue.  This is the stuff of which I base my practice.

And because y' all know by now how impossible it is for me to just drop a quote on you without my opinion (you also know how I love to pontificate!), stay tuned to future blogs because each one will be pondered upon by yours truly.  I just know you can't wait!

From The Trouble With Boys by Peg Tyre

"... perfectly smart kids develop at different times."

"Teachers also need to help boys develop emotional vocabulary."

"By fourth grade, though, children who attended academic preschools earned significantly lower grades - behaved worse - then children who attended play-based or mixed approach ones.  The boys who were best able to keep pace wit the girls had attended the child-initiated schools.  The boys who fell farthest behind the girls were the ones who had attended the academic preschools."

"Parenting has become a competitive sport."

"Boys who don't thrive in school, who disengage, and who fail to reach their potential not only are suffering assault to their self-esteem and confidence, but are setting themselves up for a life of economic insecurity."

"... using her high-powered fMRI machine, she found that boys and girls use different neural pathways to decipher simple words.  Inside the "black box" of their skulls, boys and girls use different parts of their brains to read."

"The male literacy deficit is not something that is immutable and hardwired in boys.  It turns out that schools may be teaching them wrong."

From Punished By Rewards by Alfie Kohn

"The underlying assumption is that there are exactly two alternatives: punitive responses or positive reinforcement, sticks or carrots, slaps or sugar plums."

"The troubling truth is that rewards and punishments are not opposites at all; they are two sides of the same coin.  And that coin does not buy very much."

"Rewards usually improve performance only at extremely simple - indeed mindless - tasks, and even then they improve only quantitative performance."

" 'Do this and you will get that' turns out to be bad news.... Even assuming we have no ethical reservations about manipulating other people's behavior to get them to do what we want, the plain truth is that this strategy is likely to backfire."

"As behaviorists carefully admit, theories about rewards and various practical programs of behavior modification are mostly based on work with rats and pigeons."

"Behaviorist's conception of humans as passive beings whose behavior must be elicited by external motivation in the form of incentives is, by any measure, outdated."

"If it does make sense to measure the effectiveness of rewards on basis of whether they produce lasting change, the research suggests that they fail miserably."

".... what is not always recognized is, first, just how utterly unsuccessful rewards really are across situations, and second, just how devastating in indictment is contained in this fact."

Ponder away.  


  1. I just ran across your blog through some other blogs, and I really enjoy reading it! If you get a chance, check out my new site @

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  2. Love these quotes. Whenever a therapist starts to work with my son and they ask me what they can use to "motivate" him I always become immediately wary. My response is always: "Success" And really, it can often be as simple as that.

  3. Jeff,
    I will be checking you out tonight and get you on my list. I look forward to reading all you have to share!

  4. Christine,
    What they can use is a quality relationship. It is through that the magic happens. When Superman was in therapy, we did not support or encourage the use of rewards, tokens, stars, levels. Guess what? He grew leaps and bounds without them!
    Stay wary, Mom. Wary Moms are the best advocates for their kiddos.
    Good for you!

  5. My boy never took to reward/ consequence behavior plans. In his own Aspergian way, he rationalized that he "didn't deserve the rewards, anyway." Motivation --> backfire!!


Although I am dangerously opinionated, I am a flexible thinker and welcome your thoughts.