I came across this in a blog entry by Alfie Kohn the other day:
"Finger-wagging adults who exhort students to “do their best” sometimes don’t offer a persuasive reason for why a given task should be done at all, let alone well. And if the rejoinder is that it doesn’t matter if the assignment is just busywork because kids need to develop “good work habits” across the board, well, a reasonable person would wonder who stands to benefit when children are taught to work hard at anything that they’re assigned to do by someone with more power."
This is a great and dangerous idea, as it requires educators to defend the Scylla and Charybdis of "because I said so" and "learn no work harder." We see far too much of that in schools. I hope to replace that kind of thing in my classes (and maybe my own school some day) with "because you want to" and "true learning feels more like play than work."