I am grateful to Eric Kalenze, author of “Education is Upside-Down” for pointing me to the concept of over-corrections in education. There is a tendency for solutions to problems to go overboard. So if there are a few teachers who give praise in unhelpful ways, (e.g., saying “Good job” for someone sharpening their pencil, say), then a whole movement develops to teach how to give praise, and not over-praise. The result can be the extreme of not giving praise at all, or saying ridiculous things like “Seth is not being disruptive”
We are seeing this most often with Dweck’s “growth mindsets” and Duckworth’s “grit”. Both Dweck and Duckworth did research and carefully qualified their statements and theories about both concepts in their books. But the edu-entrepeneurs have risen to fill the perceived void such theories left in their wake, and we have seminars on how to teach growth mindsets and grit, that border on –no, cross the border of–idiocy disguised as lunacy.
The latest edu-entrepreneur movement that I’m detecting seems to stem from something Dan Willingham said in his book “Why Don’t Students Like School?“:
“Sometimes I think that we, as teachers, are so eager to get to the answers that we do not devote sufficient time to developing the question.”
I admit I have to read Willingham’s book, but knowing how he is a careful writer and thinker, I suspect he probably goes into more detail on this. What has happened, however, is similar to what’s happened with concepts like “grit” and “growth mindsets”. Now the Willingham quote joins the party. Case in point: Dan Meyer’s talk at the annual NCTM conference earlier this year keyed into Willingham’s quote and almost overnight, a multitude of teaching blogs seem to be running with it. The idea is being used via computer graphics and other approaches to “engage” students, (an example is talked about here) because “engaged” students are supposedly stimulated to ask questions, seemingly satisfying Willingham’s goal to “develop the question” for which teachers can then supply an answer. Except that from what I see, when the students actually do ask the questions that the adherents believe need to be asked, those questions may remain unanswered until the students discover the answers.