Should Kids Be Bribed to Do Well in School?

in Monetary

It's really not secret information these days that the public education system is failing a lot of our students for a lot of reasons. Harvard Economist Roland Fryer set out to do something about it and paid 18,000 kids $6,300,000 as an experiment to see if paying children to get better grades would work.

Some kids who got paid did better on their reading tests. In one city there were no results at all. The results seemed promising in some instances, however, this outraged some of the parents. I think the problem with this approach is for children to be successful in the long-term, they have to learn creativity. When you're in college you have to pay to attend, and no one pays you when you get good grades.

But if you know the value of a good education you will do it anyway because once you have one it will make it much easier for you to succeed in the working world. Based on this I feel monetary rewards for good grades aren't the right way to go long-term. I think this approach is giving the child the wrong message regarding the right way to succeed. Plus over time they will try to learn tricks to cheat the system. But my point is they will concentrate on the check rather than the learning involved so they may not be apt to retain as much of what they learned.

That's partially how I feel about it, let me explain. This is not 30 years ago when I was a child. We are living in a day and age where 4th graders are buying marijuana with their lunch money and gettting street credits and praise for beating up someone in school. The morals of so many youth are twisted these days. Many of these children are from broken families who have taught them that the only thing that matters (and all they can relate to) is quick money. The worthless drug dealer with a BMW and a wad of cash in their hand is their hero. They have no sense of what a career means or no strong will to succeed in "the system" with the mainstream society when they become an adult.

So personally I would agree with this as a temporary approach and only for inner city schools since Fryer's results mentioned that kids with serious behavioral problems had the biggest test score gains when given monetary rewards. Although I don't believe that this is the best long-term solution, I believe it could give some children with a feeling of hopelessness (so many have it) a "leg up" to acquire some knowledge by getting paid. Since knowledge is cumulative, it could motivate them later to learn a lot more on their own without any additional monetary incentives. In other words the program could end up being their educational launching pad.

However, Montessori believed that a teacher should act more like a follower and not a director. Montessori was against this approach because she believed that external inducements (monetary rewards) often seemed to backfire. Although the student may learn things they normally wouldn't so they'd get paid, it may not stick in their long-term memory because they only learned what they had to for a check. What would happen is the value of what they learned would diminish. Like Rousseau, Montessori felt that authorities used rewards and punishments only to make the child obedient.

The other major problem is that Montessori felt that children who became anxious about external approval would fail to think independently and wouldn't have the aptitude to challenge social order later, even if challenging it would be justified. She believed that the best way to get a child to learn is not through monetary or other rewards, but out of an inherent drive to perform their capacities, and that external rewards shouldn't even enter the picture. Montessori believed external rewards produced followers and not future leaders.

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Should Kids Be Bribed to Do Well in School?

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This article was published on 2010/10/06