Praise can work for adults too;Letter;News and opinion

10th December 1999 at 00:00
I WORK in a comprehensive school and on a daily basis we are trying to find ways to motivate our youngsters. We are, hopefully, developing and promoting a success culture.

Government officials constantly tell us that we must raise attainment, achievement and standards - surely they know that this is why most of us teach.

How then, can a Government that demands we promote success and achievement, and insists on the raising of standards demonstrate the exact opposite in more or less every word it speaks and every document it writes?

To demand a positive approach from schools while demonstrating total negativity towards many of its workforce is surely not a demonstration of "good practice" or leading by example. The quickest way to demoralise and demotivate a child we are told, is to constantly tell it that it is no good at what it does, and to put down its attempts at everything. Surely this is no different for the country's teachers and nurses, or for other "soft" targets. A perfect example of one such put-down appeared in an article in last week's TES when Estelle Morris was quoted as saying: "... with the turn-out as low as 20 per cent in the last European elections, schools could be blamed for failing to fire pupils' enthusiasms."

There is no mention here of the politicians failing to fire pupils enthusiasm, or even of parents failing to do so. Teachers seem to be the fall guys for all the world's ills.

In teaching we worry sometimes that success is frowned upon and that it does not seem "cool" to be successful. Could it be that this syndrome is caused by by the constant negative comment put forward by some of our politicians and leaders.

Will the Government please try to operate some of the standards they demand of the rest of us?

Who knows regular praise may raise esteem, morale and motivation so high that the "only way is up".

Sue Lloyd

Aldersley high school

Barnhurst Lane


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