Wednesday, May 29, 2013

What motivates middle schoolers?

Teenagers are Wired for Peer Approval says Sarah Sparks in Education Week.  Their risk-taking behavior rises with an audience.

When intellectual risk-taking is the goal, an accepting culture and the presence of peers can be an enormous positive.  As you read this interesting article, think about the possibilities and ramifications for positive peer pressure.  Peer approval for insightful or novel ideas and good writing inspires Parker students to reach both deeper and higher.

Here is a quote from a parent in our recent school survey:  At Parker success is a standard that is encouraged and part of the culture.  The culture is reinforced by peers - so when it is a positive culture, that's what is valued.

When students know they will be sharing their ideas with friends - holding their work up to the light of peer examination - they become motivated to give their best. This is why discussion, cooperative projects and "critique" work.  And why a system based on grades is less motivating for most kids.

The experts recommend that educators focus on leveraging positive peer pressure: "When adolescents are with their peers, they're more likely to pursue rewards, and those can be academic rewards." 

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