Monday, February 20, 2012

Early Teaching

You listen to what parents say to their very young children in the course of teaching them basic skills like how to use a spoon, a cup or a toilet. And sometimes you wonder if these parents ever learnt to use what certainly sounded like their first language (and to all intents and purposes, their children's mother tongue).

The three most obvious responses to the successful accomplishment of a task are: that it is a clever, a good, or a right thing that has been done.

But just imagine what the children are learning: that merely to accomplish a basic task that all young people should be able to carry out is an unusual success — that it is intellectually admirable, morally admirable, or ethically correct above all.

I think it's all right to do some positive reinforcement. 'Keep going', or 'yes, this is what you should do' is a suitable response. But the really good responses are all too often used so much that they lose power. In the end, these parents have to call normal acts 'good' and above-average acts 'excellent' just to keep the reward system going.

Daft, I say. At least compensate by heavily punishing the negative acts, or something. After all, inflation should work both ways.

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2 Comments:

Blogger Aegle said...

Take potty training. I praised the kids no end when they cld do this *properly* bec this meant I no longer had to i) wipe pee off the floor ii) do a premature load of laundry/handwash, iii) strip the bed and wash sheets, and dress bed again. Multiplied a couple of times and such acts become morally and logically and ethically correct. Otherwise someone gets whupped. I also do believe in negative inflation, unfortunately. :D

Wednesday, February 22, 2012 6:44:00 pm  
Blogger Trebuchet said...

Aegle: Yes very good, carry on. :)

Thursday, February 23, 2012 4:02:00 am  

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