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How would you define this behaviour/attitude?

(20 Posts)
pickledsiblings Wed 12-Nov-14 17:43:51

DS is 7 and in Y3. Teacher said at last parents' meeting that he had a fabulous attitude to his work, 'best in the class'. He is doing well in most things so nothing really to worry about except that he has come home today and seems quite sad at a new method his teacher is using.

Already in existence is a marble jar type thing with lots of different ways of getting a marble, like good singing/good listening/10/10 in spellings etc. DS doesn't like this method of motivation (which I presume it is) as he just wants to do his best and not have it 'quantified' in any way.

The new method is to award bronze/silver/gold to a set piece of work. From what I can gather there is a list of criteria to be ticked off to move through the awards. Anyway, DS doesn't like the competitive element to this and just wants to get on and do good work, again without having it 'quantified'.

I can sort of see where he is coming from and can't decide whether it's a good or a bad thing iykwim. Is it a basic personality characteristic that he is displaying and if so, what is it? Any ideas/opinions most welcome, thanks smile

mrz Wed 12-Nov-14 18:03:11

It could be a whole school initiative in which case he's going to have to live with it I'm afraid. Just tell him to continuing doing his best and not to worry about the rest.

pickledsiblings Wed 12-Nov-14 18:49:40

Thank you mrz, that's what I have done. Still, he's unsettled by it and his teacher has gone down in his estimations. Apparently he told her he didn't like it and his reasons why and her response was along the lines of you don't have to like it, you just have to do it'.

mrz Wed 12-Nov-14 19:16:06

It could be she doesn't like it anymore than he does if it's been imposed as a whole school initiative but she can hardly tell him so.

BuzzardBird Wed 12-Nov-14 19:24:13

I would be quite shocked by a teacher labelling a child as being "best in class". I think that is a very unprofessional attitude to take. What if you went around telling the other parents? How would that work out?
I think the teacher's methods are soul destroying for those that cannot attain 10/10 for spelling etc.

BuzzardBird Wed 12-Nov-14 19:25:19

Sorry, forgot to answer your question. I think your son has exactly the same thoughts on all this as I do. He is very mature for a 7 yr old.

pickledsiblings Wed 12-Nov-14 19:49:25

Buzzard, teacher is NQT and probably didn't mean to say it quite like that.

mrz Wed 12-Nov-14 20:00:47

Surely teacher said best attitude in class ( or did I mis read?)

pickledsiblings Wed 12-Nov-14 23:41:25

Yes mrz, it was 'best attitude' that she said. I think saying best anything is not quite PC these days.

Betsy003 Thu 13-Nov-14 07:39:26

All 4 of my children are non competitive and they strongly dislike people boasting with first place or others feeling bad coming last. I really admire this trait in my children and they are all happy, considerate, caring, kids who reflect on their peers actions

I think its essential for a school to foster a caring, cooperative, supportive atmosphere where effort is valued first. Making awards all about achievement brings out the worst characteristics in many competitive children as many aren't good sports. Also making awards all about achievement can lower the confidence of the less able.

Saying that, he will get basic marks and sats and grades throughout his school life.

Galena Thu 13-Nov-14 07:58:15

I would assume that it is not the case that there is only one gold, one silver and one bronze, so the only competition is with yourself. 'Last time I got a silver, if I include x, y and z this time I'll get a gold...'

It's all very well for your child who has a good and conscientious attitude to work (presumably every piece of work he does is gold standard...), but what if the rest of the class needs something to motivate them? Should they all be left without a motivator, just because your ds doesn't like it?

I'm not saying I completely agree or disagree, I would need to see it in action to decide whether or not I feel it is valuable, but it may be that it is not the doom and gloom you think.

rootypig Thu 13-Nov-14 08:02:31

I think he sounds independently minded and quite alternative - wonderful smile

Have you talked to him about why he doesn't like it, what he would prefer, and how he can assess work according to his own values?

kesstrel Thu 13-Nov-14 09:26:28

How long has new method been in existence? It's fairly normal for some children not to like change. If method is new, perhaps consider if he is worried about it for some reason? or encourage being open-minded to change? On the other hand, it it's been going for a while, perhaps talk to teacher and find out more about it?

pickledsiblings Thu 13-Nov-14 10:30:01

rootypig, I have talked to him and asked him what he doesn't like about it. He reckons that there is an in-built pressure to achieve something now and that if doing your best results in getting a bronze/silver i.e.not a gold then surely you will be disappointed in yourself. He doesn't want to be disappointed in himself.

Encouraging him to be open-minded to change is a good idea kesstrel.

I may have a chat with the teacher just to find out a bit more about how the new method works. Poor DS is off school ill today so it'll have to be next week.

Thanks for all your thoughts.

rootypig Thu 13-Nov-14 21:22:47

He sounds so emotionally intelligent! I would help him to share his thoughts with the teacher - not to pressure or undermine her, but so that he knows that he has been heard. (And she might take it on board! I think he makes an excellent point). Could you perhaps have a quick chat with her and ask her to hear him out? (while making clear you support her).

bigTillyMint Thu 13-Nov-14 21:29:40

I could see this kind of thing might have made DD quite anxious at school. She would also have hated to feel that she had tried really hard but still "only" got a bronze or silver.

I think it's an anxiety thing about feeling that you're not good enough if you're not top/getting the best possible marks IYSWIM.

MidniteScribbler Fri 14-Nov-14 01:47:09

Is this only competitive against yourself? Eg, it's possible for everyone in the class to get gold if they reach the set criteria?

It sounds to me like the teacher is beginning to introduce the concepts of rubrics to the students. I do it a lot with my students (although not gold/silver/bronze, just usual grading levels). It was rarely used at primary school level years ago, but introduced at secondary, and obviously used at university level, but it's become a lot more common now across the primary years. It shows the students what they need to do in order to achieve a certain grade on a particular task, starting out fairly basic - eg one grade is X number of words, four photos, two references, the next grade is X number of words, three photos, one reference , etc, and builds up in complexity as students become familiar with the concepts and how to use them to improve their own work. Students are also then asked to evaluate their own work against the rubric before submitting it (self assessment and reflection). It means that standards are very clear and transparent to students (and parents) and they know what they need to focus on. As the year goes on, we even get the students to develop their own rubrics for their tasks.

Being non competitive with others is a fine trait to have. But being able to critically evaluate your own work and know what you need to do to improve that work is also a vital skill to learn,

Have a chat to the teacher and see if this is what she is trying to work on with your son. I'm afraid that if this is what she is doing, then he will need to accept it and learning how to use them, especially if he is interested in going on to higher levels of education in the future.

Cloud2 Fri 14-Nov-14 10:29:39

It looks like the new system would clearly let children know how good their work are, and so they can try to do better next time. If the teacher just mark all the works as well done,good effort, how can children improve?

When we were little, teacher always marked our homework, you know what you did wrong, what you needed to improve. For writing, teacher oftern read aloud the best work so other children knew what was a good work.

PastSellByDate Fri 14-Nov-14 10:43:29


Maybe it's me but I'm slightly perplexed about whether there's an actual problem here - I think it's perception.

Your child wants to do good work - but presumably he/ she also wants to know that the teacher rates their work as good/ bad/ otherwise.

So banding work bronze/ silver/ gold - and acknowledging that is giving your child feedback on his efforts (which I suspect s/he does want).

It's only a competition between your DC and other pupils if your DC wants to make it that. However, the marble jar system is used at many primary schools here and usually results in giving a child some power over decision making:

e.g. the marble is picked and the child is asked - what shall we do in PE today: Football or tennis. They get to decide. Lots of encouragement toward various decisions - but for once they can decide.

marbles are used to choose next whole class reading book (again the cunning teacher gives them two choices - both of which they're happy with)/ next field trip (again cunning teacher gives two choices that are equally pleasing to teacher)/ etc...

It's only a 'competition' if you want it to be. But as your child wants to do good work - being evaluated as producing 'gold' work would be reassuring and presumably gratifying - so I don't see the problem.

Finally I think you need to speak to the school about this scheme - our school introduced bronze/ silver/ gold merit card schemes which children worked through (getting little badges when they completed a card) - but points were for community (helping others)/ effort (working hard in class)/ achievement (making targets/ improving/ persevering) and general merit (a catchall award that teachers could give for good answers/ helping/ etc...). There was no competitive element against each other - it was merely a means of helping children to understand what good behaviour looks like and to gently encourage them toward it.

pickledsiblings Fri 14-Nov-14 14:04:17

Thank you so much for all your interesting comments. Midnight, I have assumed that it is what you have outlined and I think I have managed to help DS to see the positives in the approach.

This sentence resonates with me:

' was merely a means of helping children to understand what good behaviour looks like and to gently encourage them toward it.'

My boys know how to behave and behave appropriately but by having a reward attached to their behaviour they feel sort of disingenuous (I think). A bit like they are only doing it for the reward iykwim. It's all a bit too deep for me smile

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