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Positive reinforcement doesn't work for high school kids, says teacher

Positive reinforcement doesn't work for high school kids, says teacher



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Positive reinforcement is one of the positive psychology strategies that the best press has in recent times. Psychologists tell us about the enormous benefits of stimulating the child to keep trying, to make an effort or to stay motivated through positive words.

However, an American professor has published a controversial letter in which he states that It is wrong to use positive reinforcement for high school kids because it doesn't work in the long run. The letter has gone viral and the controversy is served.

Jody stallings, is a teacher at Moultrie Middle School in Charleston, USA. He is also a writer and has done some work on adolescence. One of his articles, on positive reinforcement for high school children, has become viral, and it is that it has generated a controversy among parents, teachers and pedagogues. This is part of his article:

"Positive reinforcement is a polarizing issue among teachers. Many of my colleagues in elementary school say it works very well. I'll take their word for it. But I'll tell you something that doesn't work in high school: positive reinforcement.

I'm not saying it's bad, of course. Compliments and certain rewards are very good for the spirit. I'm talking about the widespread use of extrinsic rewards as a means of instilling good behavior.

Rewards for good behavior cannot keep up with children's changing desires [...] I had an education teacher who once told the story of an old man who was upset by some teenagers who walked home each day at across your yard and stepping on your grass. They ignored her screaming, so one day she decided to try positive reinforcement in reverse. He offered the children a dollar for each day they walked on his lawn. The kids were happy to do it, especially since they had already done it anyway, and for a month, the man did well on his bargain. One day he suddenly stopped paying them and called to make a deal. The kids got so angry that they refused to walk on their lawn again.

That's what tends to happen with positive reinforcement when extrinsic rewards are removed. The behavior you want to maintain doesn't always stick. He was tied to a reward. "

Professor Stallings believes that schools should not prepare children for an unreal world. In real life, the one our children will face when they grow up, they will not receive rewards for being good citizens, there will be no checks or awards for paying taxes on time, for going to the correct speed limit or for not disturbing the neighbors.

We adults have learned that there are correct ways of proceeding and incorrect ways, and for the correct ones we do not usually receive praise, we proceed that way because it is morally ethical, we know it and others know it. Point.

This teacher affirms that this is how we should educate our children, to be good people and to do the right thing simply because it is what they should do, not because of the prize, the praise or the reward they can receive. Otherwise, they will get used to doing it just to get that positive reinforcement.

Some criticize Professor Jody Stallings Faced with this approach to the error of positive reinforcement for secondary school children because:

- Does not understand the positive reinforcement model, a strategy that is not based on rewards or material rewards, but on giving a pleasant and appropriate stimulus to motivate the child.

- In a school environment where the child or adolescent is rarely supported or motivated in a positive way, learning will be more difficult.

- We must look at human beings individually and see what works for each of them, perhaps the stimulus for one child does not work for another.

You can read more articles similar to Positive reinforcement doesn't work for high school kids, says teacher, in the category of Motivation on site.


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