Sunday, October 13, 2013

Five Reasons to Stop Saying "Good Job!"

Five Reasons to Stop Saying "Good Job!"

By: Alfie Kohn

While reading Alfie Kohn's, Five Reasons to Stop Saying "Good Job!" I greatly disagreed with the author's views and opinions about using the phrase "good job." At such a young age, children need the constant support and praise of their actions because they are not mature enough to understand that their actions are ones they are supposed to be doing. Children lack self esteem and confidence and need the appraisal to know that they are doing a "good job" and to continue doing it. If a child doesn't think their actions are good then why would they continue to do them unless you give them that praise? 

While working on my Service Learning Project and gaining classroom experience, I have began to think about "what kind of teacher do I want to be?" I have tested out different phrases and have already had many "Delpitt" moments, however, the phrase "good job" has had a positive effect within the classroom so far. I work with kindergarteners who believe that what they have to say is the most important thing in the world at that time so naturally I hear countless stories about, "my brother lost his tooth," and "I just got a new puppy," as well as the occasional, "can you tie my shoe?!"

However, while hearing these stories and trying my hardest to keep these kids on topic I have noticed that by acknowledging their work and telling them "good job," they develop the need to in a way "please" me by continuing their work. I find that once I tell one student "good job" then the others hurry to do what they are supposed to in order to receive a "good job" as well. In my eyes there is nothing wrong with this and students should strive to receive a "good job" and I often notice their faces light up when you praise them. By praising them you are giving them a motive to keep up the good work!

One statement that Kohn stated that bothered me the most was his third reason stating, "Every time we say, "Good job!", though, we’re telling a child how to feel." I disagree with this statement because children are too young to develop the maturity level to continue doing what they are supposed to for their own personal benefit. They need a motive and a reason to be doing something in order to stay engaged. In a way they need a purpose for doing what they are doing. At five or six years old a child already think that their drawing is the best drawing ever so by telling them "good job" we are not telling them how to feel, but encouraging them to keep drawing and not give up on themselves!

Questions to ask in class....

If Kohn doesn't want us to say "good job" then what should we say? If anything at all?


  1. Lauren,

    I would disagree with you about children lacking self-esteem. I think they have it in heaps. They be apprehensive in what the do gauging to see if it’s the right thing to do (that’s where your constant support comes in) but they are pretty confident. It’s when they grow up that they lose it. Which makes one wonder if it’s because they hear “good job” less and less as they get older….oooh, there could be something there! Wow! Another light bulb moment. Dependence is seems may be what stifles their confidence.

    Your argued viewpoints give the reading a new perspective. Very interesting!

  2. Lauren,

    I agree it can be frustrating ,what can we say instead? We want to be great role models and praise good behavior but how? I feel so cold not saying anything at all.

    Can not wait to hear about your point of view in class,

  3. Hey Lauren,
    Great Job on your post today, I too have been using the phrase "good job" extensively at my service learning but I never thought it was doing any harm. I also had a hard time reading this piece because I didn't really agree with everything that was said. For instance the quote you pointed out about saying good job is telling a child how to feel. I just don't get it either! I never realized that Good Job was so bad.Then what are we supposed to tell them...Bad Job??
    Great Job!!! :)

  4. I agree, good job needs to be used as a support. I also have been using the phrase at my service learning and I think the kids do better when it is used. I feel like for some it gives them that confidence.

  5. Lauren,
    I think you analyzed this article in an important light. I can relate to using "good job" in the classroom because when i was much younger i always waited to hear it as i was not confident. I feel like we all need to find a happy balance of when and how to say "good job" because teachers are there to encourage their students in many ways.