Re: “Falling down doesn’t have to equal failure”

In response to Falling down doesn’t have to equal failure, published June, 19, 2009.

“Falling down doesn’t have to equal failure” (June 18 edition of The Uniter). Right, it doesn’t. I’m not certain why this article assert that “failing grades” and “high standards” are necessarily connected to student success, as it provides very little evidence of either. In fact, there is ample research to the contrary about what motivates students and where real learning takes place. Educational theorists like John Dewey, Alfie Kohn, Paulo Freire stress the idea that schools and education need to be regulated and centred around what students need to know, what they are interested in and what makes sense given their context.

Extrinsic motivation may work well when you are trying to train your labradoodle, but with children and young adults it is destined to fail.

Furthermore, punishment and rewards are simply a form of manipulation and in this standards obsessed education environment what we mean by success is often a code word for compliance. If we really want to prepare youth to be successful and meet the challenges of a complex and ever changing world we will encourage them to be self sufficient and self motivated, skilled in taking part in policy making, and critical and active democratic citizens, not peons reliant on As or Fs to act.

– Cara Zurzolo

Published in Volume 63, Number 29 of The Uniter (July 16, 2009)