The best way to teach — whether as an educator, employer, or parent — is to praise positive actions and ignore negative ones.

Write a response in which you discuss the extent to which you agree or disagree with the claim. In developing and supporting your position, be sure to address the most compelling reasons and/or examples that could be used to challenge your position.

It isn’t easy to teach without praise. Without it, students may lack motivation, teachers may lack motivation, and employees may lack motivation. Praise, however, is not always practical. For instance, when a child praises their teacher out of the blue, they are likely to take offense and resent the excessive praise. Instructing a child in the art how to draw a rose, for instance, and then praising the child’s efforts when the child is unable to draw a rose correctly may, therefore, be counterproductive.

Additionally, praise has a short shelf life. A teacher may praise a student for completing a worksheet correctly one day, then forget the student’s name the next, or praise a student for solving a math problem correctly, only to forget about it the next day. In other words, praise loses its impact over time. Furthermore, praise is not conducive to learning. When students are praised for doing well on an examination, the praise seems on the surface to provide positive reinforcement. However, the praise actually demotivates students, as they begin to believe that, as long as they do well on an examination, they can coast and coast until they finally pass. In education, praise is akin to a carrot on a stick. A carrot on a stick might motivate a horse to pull a cart, but the horse will eventually tire of the carrot and move on to something else. The same is true for praise. Students may get tired of hearing it, and if they are not motivated enough by the praise, they may decide to slack off.

Teachers, students, and parents are paid to perform specific tasks. When teachers praise students for completing an assignment, they encourage them to perform at a level above the requirements. This message is easily lost on students. Rather than feeling inspired to do their best, students may feel their teachers feel threatened by them. As a result, they may begin to slack off or, perhaps more accurately, procrastinate. Classroom teachers may find themselves unable to maintain proper discipline.

Parents who praise their children for completing chores or projects may be confusing their children. When parents praise children for doing chores, children may think that they have earned a reward by completing the assignments. Rather than motivating children to complete their duties, this reward system may reinforce children’s belief that chores are tedious and deserve rewards. Likewise, when parents praise children for completing projects, children may believe that they have to finish the project and be honored. This, too, may reinforce the notion that tasks are tedious and that children are owed praise.

Furthermore, parents may praise children for doing chores or projects but fail to provide specific praise. For instance, instead of hailing a child for washing the dishes, parents may say, “Great job! Now let’s get cleaned up and go play outside.” Without more specific praise, children are likely to think that their parents are dissatisfied with them, and they will become less motivated to do chores or projects in the future.

When praise has positive consequences, it may be an excellent way to motivate people. For instance, when a child is praised for completing their homework, the child may feel good about their accomplishments and become more motivated to do their homework the next time. Praise is also an effective way to prevent students from cheating on examinations. Students praised for doing well on a test are likely to study harder for the subsequent examination. However, praise should be used sparingly. Teachers should praise students for completing assignments, not for doing well on a test. Students should be encouraged to do well on tests, not to complete tasks. Parents should praise their children for completing chores, not for finishing projects.

Praise should be specific and constructive. For instance, when a child is praised for doing their homework correctly, the teacher should explain, ‘Based on the directions, you used the correct format for numbers, words, and punctuation. You followed directions and did not use extra material.’ When an employee is consistently praised for a job well done, the employee may develop a sense of entitlement and begin to slack off. Rather than encouraging the worker to excel, the praise may be counterproductive.

The best way to motivate students, teachers, and employees is by providing specific, constructive, and negative feedback. For example, when students make a mistake or fail to complete an assignment, the teacher should point out the error and provide clear feedback. The teacher should also explain why the job is essential and what the student should learn from the experience. When teachers give this type of feedback, students are motivated to complete the task correctly. Because they understand what is essential, they are encouraged to study for the subsequent examination. When parents provide this type of feedback to their children, they are helping their children to learn how to complete projects, complete chores appropriately, and behave properly. When parents provide this sort of feedback, they are helping their children to become motivated and to succeed.

As with praise, negative feedback has a short shelf-life. When teachers provide students with specific, constructive, and negative feedback, students may forget what happened a day or two later.

Similarly, when parents offer this type of feedback to their children, they, too, may forget it. However, negative as well as positive feedback should be timely. For example, teachers should communicate this to their parents when students do not get their homework done.