Why Reading Really Matters

by Michael F. Mascolo, Ph.D. North Shore mom, Brooke Carnap, was shocked when her daughter, Mattie, came home with a grade of 59 on her 6th grade Social Studies test. “But I know Mattie studied. I saw her reading her textbook and looking over her notes. I can’t understand why she wasn’t ready for the test. In elementary school, Mattie was considered a good reader. In middle school, her grades are slipping and it’s hard to figure out why.” Does your child know how to read? What a stupid … [Read more...]

Don’t Dismiss Jeff Bliss

by Michael F. Mascolo, Ph.D. I hope you’ve seen the viral video of the high school sophomore who, when his teacher dismissed him from class, launched into a tirade about the quality of the education he was receiving. If not, you can find it at www.youtube.com/watch?v=3bYv2AKPZOk. Jeff Bliss is an 18-year old high school sophomore. He had quit school for a year. Having learned that he would go nowhere without a high school education, Bliss returned to school. The viral video clip occurred … [Read more...]

You Can Offer A Kid An Education, But You Can’t Make Him Care

by Michael F. Mascolo, Ph.D. You can lead a horse to water, but you can't make him drink. This is a time honored adage, to be sure. For years, I’ve heard variants of it from secondary school teachers and college professors alike. You can make students come to class, but you can’t make them care about their learning. We offer incentives (grades) to students for completing their work and for doing their best work. I often wonder what would happen if we graded students on how much they … [Read more...]

I Hate Multiple-Choice

I hate multiple-choice tests. And tests that involve matching, fill in the blanks and all other such silliness. To be honest, I’m not a big fan of tests at all. That’s because tests are generally not designed with genuine learning in mind. If they were, our tests would look very different. And we would rarely, if ever, use tests of the multiple-choice variety. So, why do I hate multiple-choice tests? Let me count the ways. Objection 1: Most Multiple-Choice Tests Tell Us Very Little About … [Read more...]

Why “A” is a Bad Grade

Actually,“A” is a wonderful grade – perfection!  But maybe it should be reserved for, well, perfect performance. But how often does that happen? Jack is one of my gym buddies. We have gotten into the habit of giving grades to our workouts. Jack will say, “Well, how did you do today?" I might say,“Oh, today was only a C+.” Jack might reply,“Okay, well there’s always tomorrow.” One day, in response to Jack’s caring query, I said,“Well, today was a B+”. Jack replied jokingly,“Oooh. You almost … [Read more...]

Making Learning Fun

by Michael F. Mascolo, PhD There have been some interesting Op-Ed pieces in the New York Times recently about the process of learning. Here are two opposing positions on our recent penchant for “making learning fun”. In Building Self-Control, The American Way (New York Times, February 17, 2013), Sandra Aamodt and Sam Wang respond to recent books that offer a critique of American styles of teaching, learning and parenting. For example, Battle Hymn of the Tiger Mother (Chau, 2011) provided an … [Read more...]