The follies of praise

Published March 21, 2008 · Estimated reading time: 7 minutes · One response so far
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Evolutionary mechanisms have made organisms dependent on feedback from their environment as a way of coping and adapting to their surroundings. Similarly, human beings depend on feedback, in the form of positive or negative reinforcement, as a way of coping in their social environments and maintaining psychological homeostasis.

Preschool children
Photo by Anissa Thompson

Maslow’s A Theory of Human Motivation established self-esteem, or the internal perception of self-worth, as fundamental to self-actualization [1]. Later, Nathaniel Brandon’s A Psychology of Self Esteem made a strong association between self-esteem and psychological well-being. He recognized positive reinforcement as necessary to promoting self-esteem in children [2].

Consequently, parents and educators began placing greater emphasis on praise as a way of boosting self-esteem and greater achievement. The advocates of positive behavioral reinforcement consider praise to be an effective means by which to strengthen a behavior, and provide external support and validation to children [3].

However, in the mid-80s critics began to suggest that praise was in fact harmful to children. One of the strong proponents of this movement, Alfie Kohn, has argued that praise can make “praise junkies” out of children and lead to reduced achievements [4].

While positive reinforcement is a necessary feedback mechanism for children, generic praise can undermine self-esteem and be detrimental to achievement. Such praise can disseminate the false notion that achievement is based on immutable internal parameters; reduce mastery and autonomy in achievements; and promote the internalization of failure and avoidance of challenges.
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Permanent linkMarzieh Ghiasi

Wheat… in danger

Published March 17, 2008 · Estimated reading time: 1 minute · Share your thoughts
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Dangerous wheat-killing fungus detected in Iran – UN

Wheat Flower

A dangerous new fungus with the ability to destroy entire wheat fields has been detected in Iran, the United Nations Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) reported today.

The wheat stem rust, whose spores are carried by wind across continents, was previously found in East Africa and Yemen and has moved to Iran, which said that laboratory tests have confirmed its presence in some localities in Broujerd and Hamedan in the country’s west.

Called Ug99, the disease first surfaced in Uganda and subsequently spread to Kenya and Ethiopia, with both countries experiencing serious crop yield losses due to a serious rust epidemic last year. Also in 2007, FAO confirmed that a more virulent strain was found in Yemen.

Good news for the gluten intolerant people, bad news for the rest of us.

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Permanent linkMarzieh Ghiasi

I had to blog about this song

Published March 10, 2008 · Estimated reading time: 0 minutes Less than a minute · One response so far
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Permanent linkMarzieh Ghiasi