Praising Children For Their Work

I have recently read a very interesting article by Michael Griffin, professional music educator in Adelaide, Australia. This article, ‘The REAL Impact of Praising Children’, argues how there is little to no benefit in rewarding people at every possible opportunity. You can read the whole article by clicking here but I would like to share with you some conclusions that he states in it.

"Praising students regardless of their performance encourages a belief that effort doesn’t matter." 
"Over-the-top compliments can be received as patronising and an insult to one’s capability. Critical feedback, though, sends the message that one is capable of better performance."
"The alternative is for teachers to encourage persistence and examination of learning strategies: “How did you prepare for this? What could you do differently next time? Let’s learn from this so we can improve."

As a music teacher I can say that it is hard to find that balance, but worthwhile always bearing it in mind. When I think about all the instrumental teachers I have had in the past I realise how different they were pedagogically speaking. Some of them praising my performance but without giving much feedback about it; other ones expecting me to work hard no matter what, in order to reach that perfection on my clarinet playing. I must admit, as tough as it may sound, that the last ones provided me with much more knowledge and experience that those who praised my work, as in my opinion there is no such a thing as a “perfect” performance.

Being a musician requires a lot of commitment and practice, but also courage and determination to encounter any real-world experiences in our careers. In all honesty, when I was studying clarinet I much rathered my teachers telling me whether my performance had the required standard than failing exams or any other audition.

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