A person who does a thing — who even does it well — is not necessarily a person who cares about what they've done.
Instead, it's quite possible to get a person to do a thing, and even to do it well, using just carrots or sticks.
This, I would argue, is the condition of most of the folks who do well in our secondary schools today: they want the stuff that educational success gets them — the degree, the salary, the job — while not being all that interested in the education itself.
What I put forth in my new book is that such a person, regardless of grades or achievement, is actually a poorly motivated human soul. They're working against their design. They'll do work, but it won't be done from the fullness of their agency.
And so, eventually, they'll find themselves alienated from the fundamental goodness of learning. They'll lose the sensory capacity for tasting and seeing that an education is good.
However, simply removing carrots and sticks from schools doesn't seem to optimally solve the problem. Getting rid of all consequences and/or all incentives doesn't magically grow care. You can't subtract your way to a solution here.
Instead — and in very good news — you've got to partner with the reality that care grows from what we believe. And so, as teachers and schools we must look at the things we do, say, signal, and require of students through the lens of how these things help or hinder the development of Credibility, Value, Effort, Efficacy and Belonging.
I've got a whole series on my blog for how to cultivate these things, and now, this month, a new book out* on the topic as well. Get a group book study going at your school for the summer!
*This blog post is an excerpt from Chapter Two of that book.
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