Alfie Kohn is the author of "Five Reasons to Stop Saying "Good Job!". He was educated at Brown University and is a leading figure in progressive information.
Kyle's Kohn Moment:
We all do it, telling a student "good job" quickly because we are trying to give attention to them all at once. When I would be working with my class at art this would frequently happen but there hadn't been any real reactions from the students until near the end of my service learning. I was walking around the class helping every student who called me over when I saw a student toward the end of the table upset. I asked her what was wrong and she simply told me "I don't know if I'm doing it right". I explained to her the instructions again but then she started to get more upset because I didn't understand what she meant. She said "No, I don't know if I did it right because you didn't tell me I did a good job!" At that moment I understand how bad telling a child "good job" could be. At that moment I took away her feeling of independence when she did accomplish something.
Karen's Kohn Moment:
One of the students I work with every week wasn't paying attention where we were working in small group. She asked me to tell her teacher if she did a good job. I replied "only if you do a good job". She asked me what I meant by this and I asked her what she thought it meant. She told me that doing a good job meant that she would have to raise her hand, sit quietly, and follow along while other students read. I was shocked because she really knew what doing a good job was but she felt she needed my approval.
Nick's Kohn Moment: A perfectly capable child called me over while he was working individually. He asked me for help but before I could respond he just preceded to do what was expected of him. So he knew what he needed to do but he wanted my praise. He is what Alfie Kohn would call a "praise junkie".
"Student's become less likely to take a risk once they start thinking about how to keep positive comments coming"