Wednesday, July 28, 2010

CMK - Deborah Meier and Alfie Kohn

As I review my notes from our time with Deborah Meier and Alfie Kohn I expect I will have a few more posts coming.

After my last post about our time with James Loewen, this quote from Meier (or Debbie as she was called at CMK) hit home: "If democracy is what we are training children for we can't tell them ahead of time that there are right and wrong answers."

It's amazing to me how even first graders have already got this figured out. From a very early age children have determined that the adults in their lives want the right answer to things. (I know Dan had a post about how his facial expressions sent the message to students and his attempt to create a poker face, but I can't find it now.)

One of my big goals all year, every year is to ask students to explain their answers - right or wrong. It's something I try to remember with my daughters as well. However, quite often I realize I have reinforced a 'correct' answer or cringed at a 'wrong' one.

I recognize that we (my students and myself) learn more from a wrong answer than we do from a right one. I know that focusing on right answers reduces the risk taking my students will attempt.

In spite of that knowledge I default to looking for right answers. I appreciate Meier's idea of why this focus is detrimental to our students. Hopefully it will serve as a reminder for me this year.

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