However, as Alfie Kohn explains in Punished by Rewards, American education, for the most part, gets this wrong:
A top corporate executive, acccustomed to the exercise of power, lamened not too long ago about the decline of education in this country. Children, he declared, must be "made to understand the importance of learning." The approach captured in this short phrase is emblematic of what is wrong with American schooling. The aggressive attempt to "make" children do things - and even more absurd, to "make" them understand why they should care about what they have been made to do - is a recipe for failure. If, to paraphrase a famous critical report, an unfriendly foreign power had attempted to impose on America a mediocre educational system, it could have devised no better plan than to establish mechanisms for tightly controlling what students do in school.William Glasser confirms Kohn's tone:
Coercive teachers are the rule, not the exception, in our schools... We pressure students to learn what they do not want to learn, and then punish them with low grades when they do not learn it. We lose them as learners.When we focus more on simply enforcing learning we engage in something that looks less like real teaching and more like bullying.
When Glasser says we lose them as learners, he's not kidding. While some students may choose to physically attend but mentally checking-out, many more are voting with their feet and refuse to even show up - they're dropping out.
With current day drop out rates being as high as they are, there comes a point when blaming the kids or doubling the dose of more of the same is simply not a productive use of our time.
While it is true that children are made to learn - this is not the same as making them do so.