How We Learn – don’t Bribe or Beat – Ignite the Flame of Curiosity

Neither Children nor School Districts need the ‘Carrot or Stick’ Approach

In over 15 years of working with struggling students, I know one thing for sure – All children are natural born learners. Curiosity is wired into our DNA and consciousness. The old adage, ‘You can lead a horse to water, but you can’t make him drink’ is dead-on with children and education. You can’t beat education into a child and it’s very challenging to try to bribe them to learn as well.

Our current carrot and stick approach to education totally misses the point. Parents can give kids $5 for every A and ground them for every D, but this approach encourages cheating and grade grubbing, not learning. As every parent knows, positive reinforcement (bribes) may sometimes work. Punishment, especially if it is not a natural consequence, rarely changes behavior. read article»

I read hundreds of articles every month on many aspects of education and education reform. Most of what I read focuses on the glass being half empty with very little creative and practical insight into how to get the glass full. It’s a joy to come across someone like Vanessa Ralph, a USF biomedical science graduate and high school chemistry teacher, with real insight.

More on Vanessa later, but first…

Many children are returning to Common Core classrooms this year. While I believe every child is a unique individual, education does require some standardization to be effective and affordable, but we do not have to sacrifice individuality, nor create standardized children in the process.

Two-thirds of American Federation of Teachers’ delegates voted in support of the standards’ potential but called for them to be guidelines, not straightjackets. Our members also called for school officials to be held accountable for proper implementation, for teachers and parents to have real input in the process, and for a different and more meaningful accountability system for educators and students not based on testing every child every year. Finally, teachers supported a moratorium on the high-stakes consequences of Common Core-aligned assessments until, at the very least, the standards are properly implemented. read article»

As I see it, the biggest issues with Common Core right now are: it has become a cause celebre for divisive politics and a ‘pot of gold’ for businesses that want nothing more than to exploit changing tests and texts for profits. The only real hope for education reform is for parents and educators to align for ‘what works for every child?’ Is this even remotely possible, give that ‘our children, not the others are our main concern? This is exactly why we need an education system that is fair to all and is really about education and not politics or financial status.

Now, back to Vanessa –

Vanessa is spending her time hand drawing a chemistry textbook stylized for people who prefer to learn visually. She is implementing wisdom and insight that I employ day in and day out with multisensory learners – meet them where they learn best, or as I like to say – sync the learning to the student.

It’s chock-full of illustrations that help reiterate the point in a way that will make sense,” she said. “The problem with textbooks is they explain a concept over five or six pages of really small text that can be broken down into a sentence and an image. read article»

Vanessa offers us a real example of how educators and parents can rally around what we now know, through neuroscience and cognitive development, about the learning process – it’s not about the right carrot or an effective stick, it’s about – what does each child need to light and fan their unique flame of curiosity.

End of Year Challenge?

OptiKodes Make Parents the Experts in Their Children’s Success

Not all families look forward to the end of the current school year. For many parents, it has been a grueling 7 or 8 months to this point, with the remaining weeks promising more tension and homework stress.  

I have seen the burden of school support grow heavier and heavier for parents over the 15 years I have been a Learning Specialist. Now more than ever, parents are expected to carry the load at home and make sure homework gets done and tests are prepared for.  Amazingly, very little is available to help parents become the experts in their children’s success which is a key role they are being asked to fill. 

Depending on the personalities of various family members, homework wars and the tension of nightly homework consume family life in most households. Even in families where children are getting good grades, homework has been hijacking  family well-being since school began last fall. Is this inevitable?  Do parents have any recourse to this brutal education marathon they have to run with their kids all year long? Is there any way to finish the year with sanity and even harmony between everyone?

OptiKodes Academy is set up to offer parents resources which  make them true experts in  creating learning breakthroughs and stress-free homework each night.   It's not too late in the year to try OptiKodes on for size. A simple, free test on our website at will reveal your children's OptiKodes. The results of the test are best used with the  The Struggling Student OptiTuning Guide available on the site. The Guide  quickly dials in  tools and techniques which are a custom fit for your child.  This is what 'turns upside down learning right-side up' for your children and will help lighten the load on your family for the rest of the school year. 

Families who use OptiKodes consistently report that  using them has quickly transformed their child’s learning and family life.  Knowing your child’s – and your own – OptiKode streamlines your support and gives you customized tools to reach your child and preserve everyone’s well-being. Getting a taste of OptiKodes now will make you a believer and convince you to support your children with  them from day one of the next academic school year.