Armchair psychology - motivation research and the especially unfair treatment of black children

Submitted by edmund_the_destroyer in Race

I've been reading some books by Alfie Kohn, a researcher into motivation. He's a dry read, but his ideas are compelling. To summarize briefly, people of all ages work and learn best when they are treated with respect, their autonomy is respected as much as is practical, the group focus is on collaborative accomplishment of tasks, and all emphasis is placed on the topic or educational subject at hand.

People of all ages work and learn least when they are controlled, their autonomy is ignored, the group focus is on competition between people in the group for best position, and emphasis is placed on punishments (time outs, physical pain, lost privileges, lost money) and on rewards (praise, money, privileges, trophies, certificates).

In general, this means that all the emphasis on tougher standards, standardized tests which measure kids against expected values and against their classmates, strict discipline, prizes for top grades, and so forth that the politicians are pursuing are just about the worst possible strategies we could pursue to improve education. They stifle creativity, lead some kids to be timid and others to rebel, foster hostility between the children, reduce enthusiasm for learning, and reduce educational outcomes.

Combine all of that with research like this: - black students tend to get the harshest discipline of all. I am confident many of the educators and administrators pursuing this even think they're doing the kids a favor and giving them an extra push to excel. And instead, they're taking a badly structured education format and giving a double dose of the worst elements. It's not only grossly unfair to the kids, it's also dramatically increasing the likelihood that their academic performance will deteriorate further.



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OldHippieChick wrote (edited )


I can probably get you some more of Alfie Kohn's books if you're interested. You might also be interested in John Taylor Gatto if you can stomach his politics, which are more Libertarian than Anarchist, but not too terribly in your face iirc.


edmund_the_destroyer OP wrote

I have three of his books in print and plan on getting the rest from Ebay or used book stores. Thanks for the offer, though.