Change Education Engagement & Motivation

No Grades Day

Last year I set my senior PDHPE class a little task, then involved them reading up on the latest recovery strategies used by the top rugby league players. “Is it in the syllabus?” they asked. “No,” I replied, “This is brand new stuff.”

Out of 20 students, how many looked at the stimulus material provided on our schools intranet? (complete with a handy tool that tells me how many students have viewed said material)

Three. A 15% success rate!

When I asked why, the common reply was “We don’t need to know it for the HSC.”

To be honest this was a little experiment… although statistically not reliable given the small test group, it backed up what I expected to see.

Behavioural science tells us that when students see grades as the outcome of education, they actually lose the intrinsic love of learning they entered school with.

Daniel Pink’s talk in this post explores this concept in terms of monetary reward.

How many times has the first question a kids asked you after setting a task been “Are we being tested on this?” or “What’s this out of?”

If no marks are attached, what priority is it given?

How many schools say they want to create Lifelong learners, critical thinkers etc… and then subconsciously undermine their students’ intrinsic motivation to learn by continually attaching a grade to their learning?

I’ve heard of consultants who advise marking and grading S T U D Y N O T E S !

So my vision is to have a day where no grades are given. Anywhere. In Any School. WORLD-wide. But I will settle for some schools, heck even one’ll do!

Kids coming to school to learn for learnings sake. No fear of failure. No reinforcing the labels we have for our kids. Letting kids explore…

Never-mind teachers or parents, I reckon the kids would “flip out” because that’s how we’ve conditioned them…

So put the date in your diary: Friday 18th May – the day after NAPLAN – and no the irony is not lost on me…

Change Education Engagement & Motivation

Kids Shouldn’t Go To School!

There, I’ve said it! Well maybe not quite…

What I mean is: Schools should go to kids – meet them on their turf.

Genuinely “engage” them. Find out what makes them “tick.”

Use the technology they use on a day-to-day basis.

In my opinion too many teachers, schools and parents mistake conformity for engagement. The kid who does what’s expected, when they’re expected and without too much fuss, well, they’re “engaged.”

I’d argue that it’s quite possible (and quite likely in a lot of cases) that these kid’s aren’t genuinely engaged at all. They’re just playing the game. Playing the system. And the system rewards them.

Blatantly thieving from Dan Pink – True engagement requires three things.

Autonomy – To choose how, what, where and when students learn.

Mastery – Learning for the sake of getting better – regardless of whether you need to know it or not for the test. Does having a syllabus “cap” what kids need, and therefore want to learn?

Purpose – If the only reason for kids learning something is that it’s on the test, is that good enough?

What opportunities could your school provide to really “engage” its students, whilst still delivering the mandatory curriculum?

But let’s not just worry about the kids.

How “engaged” does your school allow its teachers to be?

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Education Leadership

What’s wrong with Performance Related Pay? – Latest SMH Piece

It is generally accepted in most professions that the better you are, the more money you can command.  Many teachers would agree the top in their field should be rewarded accordingly. So why is it that the Gillard government’s proposed performance-related payment scheme is not being welcomed with open arms? Read my full article in the Sydney Morning Herald.

For another take on the psychology behind motivation, and an insight into why the Gillard model of PRP may not achieve its aims, watch this short talk by internationally renowned author and speaker Dan Pink.

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