Cory Leonard

Archive for September, 2013|Monthly archive page

Losing Is Good for You –

In Uncategorized on September 27, 2013 at 5:06 pm

Too much praise (think fake diplomas and graduate ceremonies) = bad for kids.

Po Bronson and I have spent years reporting on the effects of praise and rewards on kids. The science is clear. Awards can be powerful motivators, but nonstop recognition does not inspire children to succeed. Instead, it can cause them to underachieve.

Carol Dweck, a psychology professor at Stanford University, found that kids respond positively to praise; they enjoy hearing that they’re talented, smart and so on. But after such praise of their innate abilities, they collapse at the first experience of difficulty. Demoralized by their failure, they say they’d rather cheat than risk failing again.

The suggested strategy for giving awards? Take a look at this:

If I were a baseball coach, I would announce at the first meeting that there would be only three awards: Best Overall, Most Improved and Best Sportsmanship. Then I’d hand the kids a list of things they’d have to do to earn one of those trophies. They would know from the get-go that excellence, improvement, character and persistence were valued.

via Losing Is Good for You –


No Self-Mockery, Please, We’re American

In politics on September 20, 2013 at 4:14 pm

Deep thoughts not from Jack Handy, but rather Terry Eagleton’s new book Across the Pond: An Englishman’s View of America on US and European stereotypes and William James (of course):

The United States is one of the few places where stylelessness has become a style, cultivated with all the passion and precision of a Woolf or a Joyce. It is against this current that the likes of Bellow, Toni Morrison, and Adrienne Rich are forced to swim. It was not always thus. Jeffersonian Virginia was renowned for its oratory and rhetoric. A fluency of speech and manner was thought by some Americans of the period to provide a bulwark against the dangers of demagoguery.

via No Self-Mockery, Please, We’re American – The Chronicle Review – The Chronicle of Higher Education.


What College Professors Can Expect

In Uncategorized on September 7, 2013 at 10:47 pm

How prepared are students that are the products of No Child Left Behind for university life?

Even during those times when I could assign work that required proper writing, I was limited in how much work I could do on their writing. I had too many students. In my final year, with four sections of Advanced Placement, I had 129 AP students (as well as an additional forty-six students in my other two classes). A teacher cannot possibly give that many students the individualized attention they need to improve their writing. Do the math. Imagine that I assign all my students a written exercise. Let’s assume that 160 actually turn it in. Let’s further assume that I am a fast reader, and I can read and correct papers at a rate of one every three minutes. That’s eight hours—for one assignment. If it takes a more realistic five minutes per paper, the total is more than thirteen hours.

Further, the AP course required that a huge amount of content be covered, meaning that too much effort is spent on learning information and perhaps insufficient time on wrestling with the material at a deeper level. I learned to balance these seemingly contradictory requirements. For much of the content I would give students summary information, sufficient to answer multiple-choice questions and to get some of the points on rubrics for the free response questions. That allowed me more time for class discussions and for relating events in the news to what we learned in class, making the class more engaging for the students and resulting in deeper learning because the discussions were relevant to their lives.

From what I saw from the free response questions I read, too many students in AP courses were not getting depth in their learning and lacked both the content knowledge and the ability to use what content knowledge they had.

via A warning to college profs from a high school teacher.

via A warning to college profs from a high school teacher.