What Really Motivates Children (And Adults) in Life?

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childworkinghardNot rewards or punishments…or even intrinsic motivation.  In fact, the entire distinction between “intrinsic” and “extrinsic” motivation is a flawed one.

What motivates Molly to do her math homework?  Her inherent love of mathematics?   Probably not.  In general, we don’t first love mathematics and therefore do mathematics.  It’s just the opposite:  We come to love mathematics when we get good at it. Read More

Why Reading Really Matters

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Child Reading A Book In The GardenBrooke was shocked when her daughter, Mattie, came home with a grade of 59 on her 6th grade Social Studies test. “But I know Mattie studied. I saw her reading her textbook and looking over her notes. I can’t understand why she wasn’t ready for the test. In elementary school, Mattie was considered a good reader. In middle school, her grades are slipping and it’s hard to figure out why.” Read More

How to Make a Horse Drink

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offerkideducation“You can lead a horse to water, but you can’t make him drink”

This is a time honored adage, to be sure. For years, I’ve heard variants of it from secondary school teachers and college professors alike. You can make students come to class, but you can’t make them care about their learning. Read More

What Makes Learning Exciting?

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communicating_science_home_children_experimentingWhat makes learning exciting? The Question. If you start with the question, you can never go wrong. There are three basic steps to the learning process – any learning process. It doesn’t matter whether we are talking about students in a school; the scientists in the laboratory; or the parent and child at the baseball game. It’s all about asking and answering questions. Read More

To Teach a Child Something, Offer Moderate Challenge

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We all know what Goldilocks was looking for as she sampled the three bowls of porridge made by Mother Bear: Not too hot, not too cold, but just right.    Like anything, when helping our children adjust to emotional situations, getting it “just right” is easier said than done.  Happily, however, we don’t have to get it “just right” all the time.  Instead, we simply need to get it “just right” most of the time.  Happier still, giving “just the right” emotional guidance is more a matter getting to the “right range” than finding any single fixed point. Read More