Clap for Lucy

Lucy is almost 15 months old. She’s chunky, juicy, and has dimples that you can fall into. I was sitting on the couch after a typically awesome but tiring day when she grabbed the stool and started putting on her little demonstration.

I’m sure it’s very easy for you to see the sheer pride in Lucy’s face and body. We never trained her to do this, nor suggested it in any way. So if you’re like me, analogies for the process of learning are likely flowing through your brain like so many pints of Guinness in a Dublin pub.

The main connection I instantly made was to our conversations around student motivation and feedback. In the many great debates we have around this topic (extrinsic/intrinsic, rewards/punishments, badges, etc.), I feel we have a tendency to simultaneously overcomplicate and oversimplify the matter. Overall, I feel we need to resist the urge to turn it into Republicans vs. Democrats, because it’s when we become too sure in our stance that we walk down the road of confirmation bias.

What I see in Lucy is a need to

a) challenge herself

b) accomplish things she is inately compelled to pursue, and sees people around her doing

c) have a shared celebration of those accomplishments.

Which leads me to consider what a celebration or acknowledgement of an accomplishment entails. In our house, if our little baby gets excited about being able to stand by herself on a stool, we clap along with her and shout various affirmations. Is that praise? Is it feedback? Do we give babies different kinds of feedback than we do to our teenagers? Is she motivated intrinsically or extrinsically?

I’d love your thoughts on this. What other analogies do you see in Lucy’s video?

Stay tuned for an accompanying post in which I reflect on the extent to which culture impacts our notions of ‘punishment’ and ‘reward’.

Making Mountains out of Mud


CC licensed photo shared by Flickr user theclyde

I saw the funniest thing today while picking my son up from kindergarten. As I stood waiting for Jackson to come out and yell “DADDYYY!!!” (no better sound in the world), I witnessed one of the dads collect his son a bit earlier and scoot off as fast as he could. As he exited the gates with his boy, he inexplicably admonished his son not to step in the patches of mud that were a few steps away, yet not even close to the path they were walking on. What did the boy immediately do?

He stopped walking quickly with his father, stood, and gazed longingly at the mud.

The man had not noticed his son had stopped, so ended up a few meters ahead. When he finally realized the boy was far behind him looking at the mud like it was a naked lady in a magazine, dad began shouting at son to vamos.

The boy would not respond.

So the man sighed, ran up to his son, but was too late.

The boy stuck his foot in the mud. He had to. Insert analogy here.