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The Best Way To Teach Is To Praise Positive Actions And Ignore Negative Ones. - With A Free Essay Review

"Write a response in which you discuss the extent to which you agree or disagree with the recommendation and explain your reasoning for the position you take. In developing and supporting your position, describe specific circumstances in which adopting the recommendation would or would not be advantageous and explain how these examples shape your position."

Education is a life-long process. It starts at home where children learn from their parents. Then, it continues in school and university where teachers assess our overall progress and try to imbue us with morals and high principle. Finally, it continues after formal education is finished and the role of a mentor is executed by the society we live in. In all of its embodiments, education implies the presence of a mentor, who can either laud or censure our behavior. I somewhat agree with the statement and think that choosing the best way to teach depends on a situation: sometimes we can confine ourselves to praising, but more often we need to involve both appraisal and criticism.

In certain instances, the best way to teach is really to praise positive characteristics and to ignore negative ones. For example, the famous football player, Pele, once said that he was such a good player because his coach did not make specific efforts to correct certain unfit qualities and techniques, but instead he praised the winning characteristics and constantly reinforced them. In such a way the coach did not attract unnecessary attention to the poor features of his players and emphasized their strong parts. By persistently doing so, he was able to eliminate their disadvantages and to make the winning traits domineering. This example clearly shows that in some instances an educator (or coach) can do a good job by ignoring negative manifestations and praising positive ones.

However, we cannot apply this principle to all forms of education and training. Parents, for instance, do not want their children to cross the street on a red light. Following the statement from the prompt, parents should give accolades to their children crossing the street on a green light and ignore their crossing the street on a red light. But can we just ignore this potentially dangerous behaviour? I can hardly believe that there is a parent who will follow this recommendation. So, it looks like we cannot just ignore the negative behaviour, sometimes we need to criticize it and explain why this behaviour is wrong. Another level of education is our life in a society. While all of the denizens are well aware of the norms of decent conduct and the laws of a particular country, some people commit crimes. Can we simply ignore felony? I think the answer is no, society should go further and punish such negative manifestations. Of course, the last two examples are somewhat extreme. Nevertheless, they do their job of pointing out shortcomings of the statement in the prompt. They also show that in some cases we need to criticize one’s actions in order to put one’s behavior right.

Rather than being extreme in our choice between praising or criticizing only, we should develop a balanced approach toward education in all of its senses. In a very simplistic view, education resembles the development of reflexes. Sometimes we need a positive reinforcement, that is to praise and give accolades for proper behavior and excellent achievements; and sometimes we need to give an averse stimulus, that is to criticize negative behaviour. To take an example, a child may be good at learning but unsuccessful at cooperating with other children. In this case, teachers and parents should definitely give the child accolades for being so shrewd and sedulous in his studies. However, they should also explain him or her that working together with other children is very important for being effective in further life. Thus, to make the best of the process of education we need both praise and criticism. Winston Churchill once said: “Criticism is necessary for it fulfills the same function as pain in the human body; it calls attention to an unhealthy state of things”. So, the primary goal of healthy critique is to call attention to a problem, to propose a way to resolve the issue. By no means it should go so far as to become mere carping at somebody or scolding one harshly without a reason.

In certain cases the best way to teach is to praise positive actions or characteristics and to ignore negative ones. More frequently, however; effective education implies criticizing negative actions, too. To sum up, the best way to teach depends on the situation.



The prompt asks you to describe specific circumstances in which adopting the recommendation would or would not be advantageous. Your first argument offers Pele's education as a footballer as an example. You should introduce that example by first specifying the circumstances that you are concerned with here. It's unclear from the paragraph about Pele whether you are arguing that when footballers are being trained, only their positive actions should be noted and praised, or whether you want to argue that the same would be true of the coaching of all sports persons, or whether instead you would only argue that there was something specific about Pele's personal situation that demanded the kid-glove approach to his training. In short, you need to clarify the significance of the example, and you need to do so in a way that is responsive to the prompt's instructions, which means explaining what it is about the circumstances that made that approach to teaching appropriate. And, then, you need to explain how the example shapes your position, which I think requires more than saying that the example shows that "in some instances" (which is very vague) a teacher should praise not censure.

Your next argument is better because it is more or less clear what the circumstances are in which it is important not to ignore negative actions. Of course, you should be aiming for slightly better than "more or less clear." The way to improve the clarity would be to make the description of the circumstances that you have in mind explicit, rather than describe those circumstances implicitly in the form of a rhetorical question. One could say, for example, "In those circumstances where a negative action is dangerous to the student (as when a child crosses the road without waiting for a green light), it is important not to ignore that action." That is clearer than saying "But can we just ignore this potentially dangerous behaviour?" The approach that I've just recommended would also apply to your discussion of the circumstance in which the negative action is illegal.

Finally, as a general point to note, I would say that even in cases such as this, where you are asked to describe specific circumstances and explain the significance of examples, you ought to think about and draw attention to the general issues that might be at stake in deciding the given question. That means, in this case, thinking about the general value of praise or criticism, and the possible drawbacks of indulging in or avoiding one or the other. It might mean, for example, thinking about what makes the communication of information (in the context of teaching) effective, or about the possible negative consequences, in general, of praise or criticism. Is there a way to communicate the difference between positive and negative actions, for instance, if we only praise the former? Does censure have a negative impact on some students? Might praise encourage students to become complacent, or does it rather motivate some students?

Best, EJ.

P.S. We are now asking students to limit submissions to one essay per day.
Submitted by: elenad3d


Dear EJ,

Thank you very much for the thorough analysis of my essay. I could probably cite your critique as an instance of a huge positive impact that criticism can have on a student's essay )))
August,02 2012

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