Tuesday, 16 September 2014

GRE writing - Issue Task: The best way to teach is to praise positive actions and ignore negative ones.

Write a response in which you discuss the extent to which you agree or disagree with the statement and explain your reasoning for the position you take. In developing and supporting your position, you should consider ways in which the statement might or might not hold true and explain how these considerations shape your position.
There are many ways how to educate and teach. Many schools prefer one system or the other but still nobody was able to come up with only one and the best method, even though many philosophers and teachers used to contemplate on the topic. Nevertheless, in my opinion, I cannot agree that praising positive actions and ignoring negative ones is the best approach to teaching. The recommendation gives too strong "all or nothing" impression.

Fist, we should consider current educational system which offers wide range of marks. Different countries apply various measures but probably none of the systems incorporates only good marks. For example, there are marks from 1 to 6 in Poland educational system from primary through middle to secondary schools, where 1 is the worst one and 6 is the best one. The better the student, the higher mark she or he can obtain. On the other hand, one of the British systems uses letters from A to F, where A is the highest mark and F the lowest one (fail). The main aim in these methods is to provide students with a measurable feedback that can help them understand their abilities, draw their attention to weak points and encourage them to work on them. At the same time, it points out positive facets and praise or inspire students to repeat merit behaviour. Merely positive marks would leave lazy students confused and without any motivation or support.

Second, from the psychological perspective there are many examples that show different approaches. There was a famous experiment called “Pavlov's dogs” in which a dog was awarded a bowl of food if it carried out a given task properly, otherwise was given nothing. This was a simple 0 or 1 system that included both negative and positive aspects. More sophisticated outlook on the issue is given in the book by Anthony Robbins: “Awaken the giant inside”. The author argues that there are two basic forces that influence each of us. One of them is to gain pleasure, whereas the other one is to avoid pain. Moreover, it occurs that in many cases the force to get rid of or eschew pain is more powerful than the one to pursue happiness or bliss.

Personally, my opinion is that it would be rather improbable to discourage children from drugs only by giving them positive feedback. One of the most powerful way to teach children about the consequences of alcohol and drug addiction is to take them to a detox ward and show them the miserable effects of such conduct. It is dreadful but at the same time memorable and powerful experience. Furthermore, when children start drinking alcohol or taking drugs, there is no other way but one – to reprimand them and force them to shun the addictive substances.

In conclusion, current situation and psychological experiments prove that a human being is driven by both praise and punishment. If we are only praised all the time, we usually become complacent. In contrary, the ongoing and eternal punishment can harm us deeply and prevent from any development. Thus, we should search for a golden rule and apply these two forces in the right proportions to strike the balance.

No comments:

Post a Comment