Friday, December 11, 2009

Do students need to enjoy school to do well?

This was the chicken and egg question of yesterday. Does a student need to enjoy school to do well?

My initial thought was no. I hated school but still did well.

... but then, I was hardly the average kid.

So I looked at the top ten kids in each year group and asked myself did they enjoy school. For the majority it was yes. Which doesn't really answer the question, as 'do they enjoy school because they are doing well?', or 'do they do well because they enjoy school?'

So I took the assumption that students enjoy school because they are doing well and sought to quantify it.

The next question was, "Does progress equate to doing well or does competitive achievement equate to doing well?" On face value progress probably isn't enough, as students in lower classes generally enjoy school less than in upper classes (or similarly in unstreamed groups, students at the bottom of a class are generally less likely to enjoy school if they aren't competitive with other students), yet in many cases students in lower classes are making faster progress. The exception is in VET courses where success is defined as either leaving school and entering the workforce or alternate education such as technical colleges.

Following this insight you could make the tentative conclusion that artificial success or enjoyable activities will not make a student enjoy school as only competitive success will give them satisfaction! Students need to do well to enjoy school.

This would explain why students seek social success or spectacular social failure (negative behaviours) as this is something they can be competitively successful at. It would also explain mastery based class success and why dumbed down classes tend to be happier (give a class a copying activity and watch them go!)

Find a longer bow than that! I dare you!


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