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FEBRUARY 16, 2009   

Cleveland skyline looking east with clouds and blue skyGorgeous

Somewhere around noon the sun broke through the clouds, blue sky revealed across much of the sky. Joanne and I, prepping for our upcoming Grand Canyon trip, walked for a couple of hours. We covered seven miles, up and down hillsides at Edgewater Park and through the nearby neighborhoods.


I just watched a couple of short videos from the recent TED (Technology, Entertainment, Design) conference. Barry Schwartz gives a great talk about why rules and incentives are rarely successful in promoting desirable behavior. As a teacher the behavior I want to promote is learning to learn. The method I use involves a detailed set of rules and incentives spelled out in the class syllabus, rules like the number of allowed absences (one) and incentives like extra credit for extra work (rarely done by students).

Schwartz declares that rules are effective at preventing disaster, but in its place they guarantee mediocrity. And he gives examples of incentives that actual reduce the likelihood of the desired behavior. Yikes. Now what?

Well, heck, here's the video. See what you think (and comment using the link below).

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