Students say: "I’d rather have a compliment than sex or pizza!"

Photo by Handle with Care

Many people think that kids just aren't motivated by grades any more. Of course, this research released in the New York Times has many people a Buzz.

Students would rather receive a boost to their self esteem over hanging out with friends, sex, or pizza?

Isn't this the generation we've been told to compliment over and over? Many schools have removed awards and made sure everyone gets a trophy. Doesn't this help?

Or are they hungry for genuine, well-earned praise?  Do they want to know that they matter? Do they need meaning?

I don't have the answers here nor do you, but I do know that when I do things in my classroom that it is important for kids to know that the work we are doing matters and that they matter as human beings.

My friend Angela Maiers was telling me about some research she did with school children in some low performing schools in Hawaii.  What did the kids want? They want the teachers to look them in the eyes every day and know their name!

Whatever we've done with this generation they want to know that they matter.

To me, it isn't a matter of giving more cheap compliments that are not sincere but perhaps a matter of finding out what each student is actually good at doing!

Kids can spot a fake. I think the telling part of the article says:

“But Carol Landau, a clinical professor of psychiatry and medicine at Alpert Medical School at Brown University, pointed out that sex and alcohol are readily available on many college campuses and within students’ reach. Their accessibility could explain why students are more motivated to get good grades and positive feedback, which may be harder to come by. “The other rewards are somewhat within their control,” Dr. Landau said. “The self-esteem factors are not.””

In fact, most adults aren't getting compliments either!

Remember your noble calling, teacher. And work hard this week to take the challenge. I challenge you to make sure you give genuine compliments in an appropriate way at least once every class period. And while you're at it, compliment at least once colleague a day — that is six per day! Just do it this week and I will too, and let's see what happens.

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Vicki Davis

Vicki Davis

Vicki Davis is a full-time classroom teacher and IT Director in Georgia, USA. She is Mom of three, wife of one, and loves talking about the wise, transformational use of technology for teaching and doing good in the world. She hosts the 10 Minute Teacher Podcast which interviews teachers around the world about remarkable classroom practices to inspire and help teachers. Vicki focuses on what unites us -- a quest for truly remarkable life-changing teaching and learning. The goal of her work is to provide actionable, encouraging, relevant ideas for teachers that are grounded in the truth and shared with love. Vicki has been teaching since 2002 and blogging since 2005. Vicki has spoken around the world to inspire and help teachers reach their students. She is passionate about helping every child find purpose, passion, and meaning in life with a lifelong commitment to the joy and responsibility of learning. If you talk to Vicki for very long, she will encourage you to "Relate to Educate" or "innovate like a turtle" or to be "a remarkable teacher." She loves to talk to teachers who love their students and are trying to do their best. Twitter is her favorite place to share and she loves to make homemade sourdough bread and cinnamon rolls and enjoys running half marathons with her sisters. You can usually find her laughing with her students or digging into a book.

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Vicki Davis writes The Cool Cat Teacher Blog for classroom teachers everywhere