My personal musings about anything that gets on my radar screen--heavily dominated by politics.


You Want Real Education Reform? 

Maybe we should all start the conversation by reading this article in the current edition of Time Magazine (courtesy Hot Air).

No, I don't think genuine school reform starts with paying students to do well in school. And that really isn't what the study this article reports on says. If I can distill it down as best I can, what the article really says (with a few caveats) is that when students are rewarded for good habits, those good habits tend to stick, and lead to better performance. Students who get rewards for good test scores show little improvement; students who get rewards for good grades show a little improvement; students who get rewards for good attendance show modest improvement; students who get rewards for reading on their own make significant improvement.

This is really nothing new: ask any coach or musician what the real purpose of practicing is, and they will (should!) tell you that the purpose is developing habits. Yes, it's all well and good to learn the plays or the notes and rhythms, but the habit of doing a thing to the point of achievement leads to greater and greater achievements.

What a concept.

It's not the reward part of this that fascinates me the most; it is the idea that focusing on habits is what leads to results, NOT focusing on outcomes or other extrinsic measures along the way. Grade inflation? Teaching to the test? Even standardized testing? Not that important, unless we spend the time in the schools encouraging good habits, reinforced how ever we need to (ideally, of course, by a parent trying to encourage the same good habits.)

By the way, for consistently smart commentary on education issues, check out Ben's blog and also EdNews Colorado.

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