For too long, parenting and schooling has taken on the metaphor of the factory. At one time, this was convenient because factories are predictable. And therefore can be prescriptive.
The problem with the factory model is that life isn't predictable and so when we attempt to be overly prescriptive, things go awry.
Alfie Kohn explains in his book Unconditional Parenting that prescriptive parenting and teaching is a ruse:
I might as well warn you now: What follows will not be a step-by step recipe for How to Raise Good Kids. First of all, I would have to be a nearly perfect parent myself, which I'm not, before I presumed to offer other people a definitive, fail-safe guide to raising their children. Second, I have my doubts about the wisdom of such an approach in any case. Very specific suggestions ("When your child says x, you should stand at location y and use z tone of voice to utter the following sentence...) are disrespectful to parents and kids alike. Raising children is not like assembling a home theater system or preparing a casserole, such that you need only follow an expert's instructions to the letter. No one-size-fits-all formula can possibly work for every family, nor can it anticipate an infinite number of situations. Indeed, books that claim to offer such formulas, while eagerly sought by moms and dads desperate for a miracle cure, usually do more harm than good.
For some, the conditional nature of rewards and punishments have grown tiresome, and there are many teachers and parents who are eager for a new game plan.
However, making the leap from something as prescriptive as if this happens, say this, do that and stand there, to something that resembles less of an instruction booklet can be intimidating.
The factory metaphor is prescriptive and dehumanizing, and it has reached the end of its shelf life.
The organic metaphor is personalized and humanistic.
Rather than guiding our actions with an instruction book, we need to draw on good pedagogy. Here are two very powerful adages I use to guide my teaching and parenting:
Children should experience their successes and failures not as reward and punishment but as information.
There is a big difference between doing things to children and working with them.
Because one-size-fits few, these adages play out in all sorts of different ways. Rather than standardizing our approach to working with children, they need our personalization.