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Re: Avoiding "Good job!" [Re: Puylly Fog] #2779369
11/08/18 06:22 PM
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Originally Posted by Puylly Fog
Also agree with you Andamento.
It shifts the attention from the result (which is desirable) to the process. It teaches the value of dedication and the ability to improve. The time it gets you getting somewhere is not as important, as long as you keep moving. Also the reward is not in being able to play the passage, but on the learning itself.

That creates a positive association to learning. Practice is actually what lets you have fun (for those looking to the fan part of it too)


Well said, Puylly Fog. Dedication, continuing progress, joy in the journey...these are all aspects of why the process is so important.

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Re: Avoiding "Good job!" [Re: AZNpiano] #2779370
11/08/18 06:25 PM
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Originally Posted by AZNpiano
Originally Posted by Puylly Fog
I am a fan of "I see you are working hard"

Eww...

That sentence is almost always followed with BUT... and then more criticism. It's like an empty phrase. It doesn't mean anything.

I will only use that sentence with students who are hopeless. For me, if you have to praise the student for the effort, that means the student will NEVER succeed.


I disagree that telling a student s/he's working hard means the student is hopeless and will never succeed. There's a place for encouraging effort in any student. (OK, juvenile. I wouldn't do that with an adult.) Learning to work hard is a good life lesson, and I think a little positive reinforcement (not excessive) regarding one's effort encourages students to apply themselves, rather than rest on their laurels, thinking they're such great players they don't have to work.

Inflated praise about their results is counter-productive and just plain wrong; judicious praise, used sparingly and meritoriously, regarding their efforts in the process, encourages stick-to-itiveness, IMO.

Re: Avoiding "Good job!" [Re: prout] #2779373
11/08/18 06:28 PM
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Originally Posted by prout
The OP was specifically referring to juveniles...


This is an important distinction. You're right, the OP wasn't speaking of adult students.


Originally Posted by prout
Criticism is absolutely essential to learning, both self generated and external. Otherwise, how can a student know if they have accomplished a task?


Totally agree. And the form the criticism takes (not attacking the person, but attacking the problem) can be an encouragement, as well.

Re: Avoiding "Good job!" [Re: Gary D.] #2779374
11/08/18 06:29 PM
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Originally Posted by Gary D.
I say "good job" a lot, but this is because I work in steps, and when a step is completed, for me that IS a good job. I also say "Got it!" "Nailed it!" "Done!"

But only when something is completed and right. Never otherwise.

I'm trying to teach that success is about building, and if you work one step at a time, you can eventually complete amazing things.

But I also say:

No, it's not right. Let's try again.

You did not do what I told you to do, and that's why it didn't work.

Well, this is exactly what we did last week. Groundhog Day!

Wrong practice makes you perfectly wrong.

For me lots of praise, because I like people to feel good about working with me, but I'm very direct about things that are not right.

I also ask for a specific way of practicing, and when I don't get it, I don't budge. Not with a 5 year-old, not with someone 85. I'm not teaching people how to fail, and if I say "Good job!" when things are wrong, I'm teaching how to fail.


This is quite similar to how I work, except I don't say the "good job" part. "Got it!" Yes, that I do say. smile

Re: Avoiding "Good job!" [Re: Puylly Fog] #2779379
11/08/18 06:33 PM
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Originally Posted by Puylly Fog
Maybe I should participate more smile


I hope you do. smile I enjoy reading your contributions on this thread. Thank you.

Re: Avoiding "Good job!" [Re: SchroedersCat] #2779390
11/08/18 07:32 PM
11/08/18 07:32 PM
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IMO, all of us here understand the need for encouragement and for positive constructive criticism. This has been a rational discussion. “Good Job!” - I’d say. crazy

What I haven’t heard is how to deal with behaviour or attitudes that are destructive to the learning environment.

Re: Avoiding "Good job!" [Re: SchroedersCat] #2779391
11/08/18 07:37 PM
11/08/18 07:37 PM
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OT, sort of. I used to teach ab initio flying, and in some cases, the student got their flying license before they learned to drive. I also, as chief pilot, taught airline pilots to fly new jet equipment. Needless to say, task based criticism was essential. One didn’t say ‘Good job!” to someone because they only killed everyone in the simulator three out of four times in this session.

As we used to say, flying is one of the few jobs where you have to bat 1000, but get paid 1000th what a baseball player who bats 300 gets.


Last edited by prout; 11/08/18 07:39 PM.
Re: Avoiding "Good job!" [Re: Andamento] #2779397
11/08/18 08:34 PM
11/08/18 08:34 PM
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I'd like to address this one specifically, if that's ok.
Originally Posted by Andamento
..... parents or school teachers who bought into the "Catch them while they're being good" philosophy--the most ill-behaved children would get the most "Good job"s because everyone was watching them so hard for the tiniest bit of behavior that wasn't obnoxious, so that they could praise them for something.

During my teacher training I interned with one senior teacher who was an especially good teacher (imho). She gave me this saying, but she also taught me how to use it. You get a lot of "popularized" things where folks mouth a saying and think they are using an approach when they're not. I found what I was taught to be highly effective if done properly, and it does not have those results.

Let's start with the opposite scenario. You get a child who is ignored and maybe neglected, and the only time he ever gets attention is when he is being bad. In a group setting, each time you punish him or reprimand him, he does get attention while the well behaved children are invisible. If you ignore the bad behaviour, it escalates and the environment suffers. The child may be misbehaving because of low self esteem, he thinks he can't do anything right, can't succeed.

Now if he sharpens his pencil and goes back to his desk, and you say out loud how nice it is to see Jerry getting ready to do his spelling work, you can see all the other kids working more earnestly. This actually happened, and the kid wanted to poke someone with that pencil until I made that comment, and then he did apply himself to his spelling work. The behaviour of several such children improved in the year that I had them. Their work and their learning improved, which in itself drives up self esteem. Obviously: if he is doing his spelling, he will get better at spelling. You pay attention to specific behaviours that you want to see, and which will promote learning. And you do that for all the students, not just the "bad kid". My guys were grade 2, ages 7 - 9. At that age they want adult approval and guidance.

I might change the saying to "Catch them while they're DOING good." (I know it's grammatically incorrect). You could go into educational psychology, and start talking about "reinforcing desired behaviour for desired outcomes". But how about just calling it guidance?


Re: Avoiding "Good job!" [Re: keystring] #2779407
11/08/18 09:56 PM
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Hi Keystring,

Rather than answering here, I sent you a PM. smile

Re: Avoiding "Good job!" [Re: dogperson] #2779429
11/09/18 01:19 AM
11/09/18 01:19 AM
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Originally Posted by dogperson
My two cents as an adult student: for some unknown reason, my teacher has changed in the last two months. Previously, it was ‘measure 8 needs xxxx’ or ‘let’s look at measure 8’.


So for all of you teachers here, once the student plays the piece, would this be the first thing out of your mouth?
For some reason that feels awkward for me to do to anyone except for my husband who I am not afraid to criticize :P


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Re: Avoiding "Good job!" [Re: SchroedersCat] #2779480
11/09/18 06:24 AM
11/09/18 06:24 AM
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Maybe my favorite feedback is when I have followed instructions, and the problem is better, but I need to do more of the correction. That way I know that I am on the right track rather than heading down some wrong direction.


I've been trying to change my signature quote for weeks.

Re: Avoiding "Good job!" [Re: SchroedersCat] #2779536
11/09/18 12:38 PM
11/09/18 12:38 PM
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I'm not a piano teacher, but an adult student and a parent of grown children. I'm not convinced by all of the article. Obviously praising everything all the time makes the praise meaningless. But I think the idea of avoiding evaluation can't be good for something like piano teaching where kids (or students of any age) often don't have the knowledge to judge for themselves what's good. My teacher tells me when something is done well, and I know he won't say that if it isn't. I need the praise as well as the correction to help me assess what I'm doing, and I think kids do too.


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Re: Avoiding "Good job!" [Re: jdw] #2779632
11/09/18 06:57 PM
11/09/18 06:57 PM
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Originally Posted by jdw
I'm not a piano teacher, but an adult student and a parent of grown children. I'm not convinced by all of the article. Obviously praising everything all the time makes the praise meaningless. But I think the idea of avoiding evaluation can't be good for something like piano teaching where kids (or students of any age) often don't have the knowledge to judge for themselves what's good. My teacher tells me when something is done well, and I know he won't say that if it isn't. I need the praise as well as the correction to help me assess what I'm doing, and I think kids do too.



I agree. I need the praise or the correction as well. Otherwise, how do I know?


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Re: Avoiding "Good job!" [Re: SchroedersCat] #2779637
11/09/18 07:19 PM
11/09/18 07:19 PM
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I just reread the article. It is parenting article, not a teaching article. I think that's important. When there is a young growing person in your home, then the child's interests, motivations, and purposes need be in others' awareness, just like for anyone else - rather than everything the child does being subject for approval. That is the point that the writer finally gets around to making at the end of the article. In a learning setting, the learner is collaboration with the person who is guiding, and then there needs to be guidance.

As a learner, I want to know whether I've managed to do what I set out to do, or the task my teacher set out for me, or what is good about what I did so I can keep doing it, or what still needs to be done or changed. I think that is true at any age. If the only thing I ever here is "good", then how do I steer my learning ship? Or how do I know I'm on track? Yes, I'm writing as an adult student, but I got that feedback from kids when I was teaching one-on-one as well. I'm thinking that might even apply to toddlers.

Re: Avoiding "Good job!" [Re: NobleHouse] #2779639
11/09/18 07:23 PM
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Originally Posted by NobleHouse
Originally Posted by jdw
I'm not a piano teacher, but an adult student and a parent of grown children. I'm not convinced by all of the article. Obviously praising everything all the time makes the praise meaningless. But I think the idea of avoiding evaluation can't be good for something like piano teaching where kids (or students of any age) often don't have the knowledge to judge for themselves what's good. My teacher tells me when something is done well, and I know he won't say that if it isn't. I need the praise as well as the correction to help me assess what I'm doing, and I think kids do too.



I agree. I need the praise or the correction as well. Otherwise, how do I know?
The question is ‘How much?”
Using the reductio ad absurdum argument, do we want praise for every item of correctness? “Well done Johnny, you played all 27 notes in the first measure correctly, and you also played correctly all...”

Do we need praise for playing notes correctly, or should we save the praise for solving a technical problem from a musical perspective, or for finally playing musically, for example.

Last edited by prout; 11/09/18 07:29 PM.
Re: Avoiding "Good job!" [Re: SchroedersCat] #2779644
11/09/18 07:29 PM
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I looked up the author and found this:

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Alfie_Kohn

He is well-read. He does not have practical experience teaching and is not a teacher. His views probably coincide with my own, which were reinforced during the time that I did teach in the classroom. That is, my grade 2 kids were already losing their intrinsic curiosity and learning drive because they had had several years of stickers, rewards, and punishments before coming to me. They were still young enough to turn this around. It was a relief to see them turning from looking anxiously to please me, then puzzled at the absence of rewards, and then drift into inquisitiveness. I had read John Holt as a teen, and what I read then probably resonated to my young mind.

Re: Avoiding "Good job!" [Re: prout] #2779656
11/09/18 09:18 PM
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Originally Posted by prout
Originally Posted by NobleHouse
Originally Posted by jdw
I'm not a piano teacher, but an adult student and a parent of grown children. I'm not convinced by all of the article. Obviously praising everything all the time makes the praise meaningless. But I think the idea of avoiding evaluation can't be good for something like piano teaching where kids (or students of any age) often don't have the knowledge to judge for themselves what's good. My teacher tells me when something is done well, and I know he won't say that if it isn't. I need the praise as well as the correction to help me assess what I'm doing, and I think kids do too.



I agree. I need the praise or the correction as well. Otherwise, how do I know?
The question is ‘How much?”
Using the reductio ad absurdum argument, do we want praise for every item of correctness? “Well done Johnny, you played all 27 notes in the first measure correctly, and you also played correctly all...”

Do we need praise for playing notes correctly, or should we save the praise for solving a technical problem from a musical perspective, or for finally playing musically, for example.


Oh, I agree with you. I would not want "constant" praise, nor hopefully constant correction. grin. Only when truly deserved-or needed.


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Re: Avoiding "Good job!" [Re: SchroedersCat] #2779658
11/09/18 09:54 PM
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I linked the article as it was the inspiration for my introspection into my own habits which were on the verge of becoming vocal tics, I'd say it so often. And honestly, Whiplash was the real onus for my introspection that led me to this article: "There are no two more harmful words in the English language than 'Good job'" I have a lot of problems with the movie, but that line got to me.

I realize it's a parenting article, veers off into areas that have little to with actual teaching, and has quite a few things I have an opinion no on at all, since as we all know, I'm not a parent. wink

But avoiding the mindless or misplaced "Good Job" was the point of this conversation. Praise is a must, but it needs to be meaningful praise. Correction is a must, but it needs to stated in a way that keeps the student motivated. Each teacher will have their own rhythm for these things, and a slightly different rhythm with each student. We're all individuals and each student/teacher partnership is unique. There is no one-size-fits-all approach to handing out praise and correction, as is made clear by all the wonderfully different views of those participating here!

I did want to touch on the debate about praising effort. Perhaps effort can be viewed two ways. You can say, "I can see you're working hard" and it could mean, "Your reasonably applied effort is creating desirable results, I can hear your progress, keep doing what you're doing" or it could mean, "Paurve ti bete, bless your heart, you sure are putting a lot of effort into digging that hole with a spoon. You sure you don't want a shovel?"

Re: Avoiding "Good job!" [Re: SchroedersCat] #2779665
11/09/18 10:38 PM
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Originally Posted by SchroedersCat
I did want to touch on the debate about praising effort. Perhaps effort can be viewed two ways. You can say, "I can see you're working hard" and it could mean, "Your reasonably applied effort is creating desirable results, I can hear your progress, keep doing what you're doing" or it could mean, "Paurve ti bete, bless your heart, you sure are putting a lot of effort into digging that hole with a spoon. You sure you don't want a shovel?"


Since I was part of that effort debate -- actually, I guess I started it wink -- I'll add now that I was thinking about what I've read of the psychologist Carol Dweck's work studying effort in school children, and how it's impacted by the way educators speak with them.

This ARTICLE, while lengthier than the one ScroedersCat posted, gives a clear picture of Dweck's research findings, and offers insights into how we, as people working with children, can apply those findings.

I did have to chuckle a bit, though, at the part where the author quoted someone else as saying, "Carol Dweck is a flat-out genius." I thought we weren't supposed to say things like that. smile

Re: Avoiding "Good job!" [Re: keystring] #2779754
11/10/18 09:29 AM
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Originally Posted by keystring
I looked up the author and found this:

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Alfie_Kohn

He is well-read. He does not have practical experience teaching and is not a teacher. His views probably coincide with my own, which were reinforced during the time that I did teach in the classroom. That is, my grade 2 kids were already losing their intrinsic curiosity and learning drive because they had had several years of stickers, rewards, and punishments before coming to me. They were still young enough to turn this around. It was a relief to see them turning from looking anxiously to please me, then puzzled at the absence of rewards, and then drift into inquisitiveness. I had read John Holt as a teen, and what I read then probably resonated to my young mind.


I believe he does have practical experience teaching. (From his web page: From 1979 until 1985, I taught a course on existentialism to high school students. It was not my only teaching experience but it was far and away my favorite.)

I'm very familiar with his work, and find it worthy of thought.

However, ideas that influence my teaching practice usually come from people with fewer publications and speaking engagements but who have spent more time engaged in actual education with actual other humans similar to the ones I work with.

My guess is that Kohn has made way more money as a pundit than he ever could have made as a teacher.


I've been trying to change my signature quote for weeks.

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