Tales from a Web Librarian

Is Strict Better than Nice in the Education World?

Is strict better than nice? This op-ed article Why Tough Teachers Get Good Grades explores the importance of a "tough" teacher -- one who doesn't sugarcoat your failures or sacrifice criticism in fear of hurting your feelings. The author argues that we should "revive old-fashioned" educational techniques, encouraging repetition and moderately stressful scenarios which will make students stronger and more confident in the end. Lipman even goes on to suggest that our current "praise-centered" teaching methods are to blame for the education crisis. I think there's definitely something to be said for old school teaching styles. When I was in 4th grade, I had a teacher that made us listen to multiplication problems on this old-fashioned record player, and every week he would increase the speed of the recording and we had to jot down the answers as quickly as we could. After a while, I didn't even have to think about the problem--the answer just came automatically. I definitely credit my success in grade-school math to that teacher's "drill and memorization" method. But I also think we shouldn't revert back to old techniques just because they "worked back then."

The main points in Lipman's article are the following:

  • A little pain is good for you
  • Drill
  • Failure is an option
  • Strict is better than nice
  • Creativity can be learned
  • Grit trumps talent
  • Praise makes you weak
  • Stress makes you strong

I don't think I agree with all of these points (nice is TOTALLY better than strict and praise is needed sometimes!) but she does raise some good information to consider...

education, WritingDana Haugh