Making a Resolution to Cultivate Motivation in the Montessori Environment
Carol Dweck, professor of social and developmental psychology at Stanford University and a leader in the field of student motivation, tells us there are two types of students: those who believe in a fixed IQ and those who believe in untapped potential.
|Fixed IQ ||Untapped Potential |
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Many teachers and parents believe that praising children for their success is motivational. However, as Dr. Montessori asserted and Dweck supports, this is counterproductive. Statements such as “You’re good at this” or “I’m proud of you” emphasize success based on personal attributes. In other words, challenges are signs of personal weaknesses, thus reinforcing the Fixed IQ school of thought.
Dweck contends that rather than give a child oriented praise, teachers and parents need to focus on process and task oriented praise. This is also very in keeping with Dr. Montessori’s philosophy regarding praise. When we praise effort and work strategies with phrases such as “You tried really hard,” “I like how you figured that out,” and “All of your math problems were correct,” we reinforce the importance of problem solving and working it out, focusing on the process rather than the outcome.
Dweck’s conclusion is based on experiments on motivation. In one, she took young children in a room to solve puzzles. Some were praised by telling them how smart and capable they were, while others were not. As the puzzles grew more and more challenging, the students who had been personally praised quit trying rather than risk losing their status of being smart. Those who had not been praised continued to work hard and try new solutions.
We live in a world where we want our children to succeed and to have high self-esteem. We clap when they learn to walk and talk. We praise them for being good or being smart. We want them to feel good about themselves. However, Dweck points out that this method of praise limits their growth and can even be detrimental down the road. Children who believe that ability is fixed and they do not have to try or work hard to learn, are at risk.
Changing the way we praise children requires a conscious effort on our part. As the New Year approaches, make a conscious resolution to focus more on the process of learning rather than the product.
© North American Montessori Center - originally posted in its entirety at Montessori Teacher Training on Tuesday, December 31, 2013.