New brain research shows that cognitive control areas of 8-year-olds’ brains respond more to positive feedback than negative feedback, while in 12-year-olds’ brains, and those of adults, these areas respond more to negative feedback.
Crone herself was surprised at the outcome: ‘We had expected that the brains of eight-year-olds would function in exactly the same way as the brains of twelve-year-olds, but maybe not quite so well. Children learn the whole time, so this new knowledge can have major consequences for people wanting to teach children: how can you best relay instructions to eight- and twelve-year-olds?’
But don’t drop all positive feedback once your children turn twelve: the article notes that brains of all ages have a separate area that responds specifically to positive feedback.
How does this fit in with Alfie Kohn’s warning that praise can kill kids’ intrinsic motivation, I wonder?
About our First Person series:
First Person is where Chalkbeat features personal essays by educators, students, parents, and others trying to improve public education. Read our submission guidelines here.