Last fall for our artist study, we enjoyed the six paintings of Pierre-Auguste Renoir. They were lovely and hung happily on our 'schoolroom' wall for the term along with one of my most favorite quotes from the artist that had to do with the idea that the only real reward for work is the work itself.
Our beloved Charlotte Mason held a similar belief and felt that children should be motivated by a naturally preserved curiosity and a love for learning rather than rewards and grades. She knew then what many modern researchers are now just discovering- that external motivators affect only the exterior, the short-term. To put it bluntly, rewards simply don't work.
This article, Five Reasons to Stop Saying "Good Job!", only confirms what so many others have already discovered. It was with mixed emotions that I read this, feeling simultaneously convicted and confirmed in my own behaviors and tendencies towards praising my children.
The author asks the reader to stop, look and listen and to notice how often we hear the words "good job" spoken from parent to child at almost every turn. I did just that and not only did I sit up and notice how often others around me are blurting out these words (almost unconciously, or as what the author refers to as a 'verbal tic'), but also how often I was turning this phrase in my own home.
I have become more mindful over the years of attempting to hold the space in my home with my presence and gestures and modeling of behaviors instead of issuing commands, praising, and talking, talking, talking at my children. This has been life-changing.
We have been in certain educational settings where children have been rewarded with candy and the like for memorizing facts, Scripture and for simply sitting still. It has never sat well with me and I can honestly say that we do not use these methods in our own homeschool and family life.
Perhaps because I have become so closely knitted to Charlotte Mason's methods of education that I knew better. Perhaps because I grew up in similar environments and it has left me sour towards such behaviors. Or maybe simply because my motherly instinct have told me otherwise.
Nevertheless, the article is worth the read, especially for those with small children. It seems to be that it is with these littlest of littles that we smother the most praise.