Saturday, September 22, 2012

Praise vs Process Feedback

I'm sure it has happened to you, too.  Someone "hears" something different from your intended message.  Someone "comprehends" something you say differently because of their own background knowledge, experiences, emotions, perspectives, their schema. 

I've been thinking a lot about the power of words to inform as well as to confirm thinking lately.  My thoughts have been fueled by words I have said and heard others say and by my reading of  Peter Johnston's Opening Minds: Using Language to Change Lives. 

Johnston's perspective is that "our language choices have serious consequences for children's learning and for who they become as individuals and as a community."  He goes on to say that telling kids they are "smart" is really not a good idea and proposes we might consider using phrases such as "you worked hard" instead!  Johnston proposes that we should consider moving from a fixed learning frame (I'm smart, beautiful, stupid, good at math, not good at skiing) to a more dynamic view (the more you learn the smarter you get, you can shange your mind, you can change your smartness). 

Instead of fixed and somewhat empty praise such as "You're very good at this" or "It's great"....praise, what if we offered others more process oriented, dynamic feedback such as:
"Look at how you...."
"The colors you chose really gave me...."
"It's clear you worked hard...."
"You sure found a good way to..."

We might just change the world, one word at at time! 


1 comment:

teachtoinspire said...

I agree that our language is powerful and that we can start changing the world with our words. Thanks for sharing this with us!