Sunday, October 13, 2013

"Five Reasons to Stop Saying 'Good job!'"

"Is it possible that telling kids they've done a good job may have less to do with their emotional need than with our convenience?"

After I finished reading this article I can confidently answer the above question. Kohn clearly proves that it is more about the adult's need to say "Good job", rather than the actual benefit of the child. When thinking on the matter, saying "Good job" after a student accomplishes something is a force of habit, your not aware of the phrase, until your made aware. The two words are said SO often in a child's school environment and home life, that the meaning behind them is lost. The convenience of it takes away from the actual accomplishment the student makes and has no long term benefit. Children are less likely to persist with difficult tasks and focus more on receiving praise, rather than actually doing well on the project set forth in front of them. Kohn even goes on to say that when these children become adults they will still seek approval, a pat on the back so to speak. Not only does it crush a child's confidence, but lessens interest on the activity. Which of course is the complete opposite of what a teacher's intentions are. With all these examples on how this simple phrase is a detriment to a child's learning, it begs the question, how do you praise a child for a "job well done", without out actually saying the words.

1. Say nothing
The praise might not be necessary.

2. Say what you saw.
State what you see the child doing, "You put your shoes on by yourself!", allowing their good behavior to be recognized. If the child shows a picture they drew, comment on an item in the picture with out any passing of judgment.

3. Talk less, ask more.
Ask questions on the process in which the student used to do their activity, teaching the children to become more excited about what they are doing.

And in conclusion, "The good news is you don't have to evaluate in order to encourage."

With that being said no truer words, on the matter of "Good job!" political correctness, has been said. As a potential teacher and having read this article (and many others) it has shown me that what you say in your class can be everything to the children you are teaching. It is up to us to help shape and encourage the types of people that the children will be in the future and the importance of your words becomes so imperative.


  1. Rebekah,
    after reading your response to "Five Reasons To Stop Saying Goodbye" i could not agree with you because from my personal experience the more i hear "good job" i feel that its actual worth lessens. I feel that parents and teachers say it because it makes them feel good or they do not realize how it can negatively affect their students. It also saddens me because it loses its power. However when i hear "good job" it does not lessen my determination to continue to do well or reach a goal. I feel that I work more to pick away the "empty" good jobs so i can hear a teacher say true "good job."

  2. Hi Rebekah,
    I really enjoyed reading your blog and thought that the quotes you talked about were very important to Kohn's main ideas. I liked when you said how this article is important for us as teachers because the children listen to everything that we say. Even in our service learning, I can see how these little kids really look up to us and value what we say to them.

  3. Hi Rebekah.
    I agree with Cathy's comment. I like that you mentioned how this article will be an important tool for us as future teachers because the children listen to everything that we say. Our service learning placement is a great way for us to practice not saying "Good Job" but instead considering the other three options that Kohn mentions.
    Great post!

  4. Rebekah,

    I really liked reading your post because of how it was broken down. The words weren't large and boring and you were straight to the point. It really breaks down the reading and it is easy to understand. I also agree with Cathy because I do think this article is very important as a teaching aspect because when I work with the students at my school I find that I am saying that a lot and I just get a bored stare right back at me so I think it would be beneficial to find a new way of praising a student/ child.