I think Mel Levine raises a few excellent points. Working without reward is disheartening, and I agree with Levine that it can completely destroy a person’s will to put effort into things. Levine’s discussion forces us to consider not only what the students need to improve upon but also that there are many ways to help them achieve that improvement, and that we must consider a variety of options. Two students that have the same problem might need different approaches to help them fix that problem, and their apparent “laziness” might be the result of their inability to respond to the approach being used.
As a tutor, I think that the story of Roberta is particularly interesting. In the one session I’ve taught so far, I noticed that my student seemed really reluctant to think about his own opinions and ideas, as if he was afraid to say the wrong thing. When I asked him what he thought was important or what was interesting, he skimmed the text until he found something there, and then simply repeated the author’s sentences instead of producing his own thoughts. Although I tried to encourage him to think about his own opinion, not the author’s, I was somewhat at a loss for how to do so. So after my tutoring session, I found the story about Roberta to be particularly helpful.
I found it very interesting – and sad – that Roberta didn’t like school. I think this suggests that there is little or no pleasure in simple reiteration. If reiteration had the same sense of accomplishment that creation does, a student with the memorization skills that Roberta had would have been very happy and satisfied at school. The possibility that it doesn’t give that same sense of accomplishment would explain why some students who have trouble creating their own ideas dislike writing papers, while I personally enjoy writing papers as an opportunity to explore new thoughts. Students with productive, meaningful output should, according to Levine, take pride in and enjoy their work.