Blogs can drive Civic Memorial students to success

Jake Carlson, an English teacher at Civic Memorial High School in Bethalto, Illinois, hopes his students learn a few lessons by writing blogs this school year, not just lessons about writing but also about the payoff that comes from working hard on something, The Eaglet reports.


Carlson and the whale from his class site (school website)

One team of freshmen, for instance, is blogging about their experiences as they go around in their community and try to get through the day, with its many activities, without talking.

“Going to school, ordering dinner, asking for help are all things that are easy to us but aren’t for those who can’t speak,” reporter Josie Johnson quoted one of the students, Jaden Devino, as saying about her team’s blog on mutism, an anxiety disorder that sometimes renders people unable to speak. “Because of our experiments, we know how difficult it is to live a normal life.”

“Students are doing well,” Mr Carlson was quoted as saying. “This is a good opportunity to (learn to deal with) success and failure.”

The blogs will be set up on Mr Carlson’s teacher website, and students will work on them until April, when they’ll give a presentation about their experience to the class.

But there will be more than teachers and other students reading the blogs, and that’s part of the draw. The audience is what makes the writing meaningful, we know, and this assignment, based on the 20Time Project, which is itself based on the book Drive: The Surprising Truth About What Motivates Us by Daniel Pink, seeks to give students that audience over the internet.

Chapter 2 of Pink’s book deals with the failure of our current systems of motivating people, be they students, employees, or whoever. He identifies seven reasons why “carrot-and-stick extrinsic motivators often produce the opposite effect of what they set out to achieve.”

Right after that comes an addendum that explains a few situations when the carrot-and-stick approach could work, but the overwhelming majority of organizations today, including schools, continue to deploy motivational strategies that have long since been proven ineffective.

“These practices have infiltrated our schools, where we ply our future workforce with iPods, cash, and pizza coupons to ‘incentivize’ them to learn,” he writes. “Something has gone wrong. The good news is that the solution stands before us.”

About the Author

Paul Katula

Paul Katula is the executive editor of the Voxitatis Research Foundation, which publishes this blog. For more information, see the About page.

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