Yesterday, I came across a radio interview and blog post by Joe Bower addressing the problem with giving zeros for schoolwork. I was so impressed by what Mr. Bower said that I felt compelled to address the issue of zeros here on a blog. Mr. Bower is an educator and speaks from the point of an educator. I am a psychologist and want to lend some understanding about what happens to the child (and the parent) under the unrelenting pressure of zeros for work not done. Rather than motivate behavior, zeros teach negative and avoidant behaviors. At the core of the problem are concepts such as what constitutes a good penalty (one that need not be given again) and how one turns around well-ingrained negative behaviors (shaping, i.e. full reward for partial success). I explain these concepts further in the video below.
Dr. Kenneth Goldberg is a clinical psychologist with 35 years of professional experience in dealing with many different psychological issues. He is the author of The Homework Trap: How to Save the Sanity of Parents, Students and Teachers and currently works in his own private practice.
Visit the The Homework Trap website