This discussion is probably eternal and will never be solved. I was deadset against that kind of thing – until I got my own children… I just don’t have the necessary parental skills to motivate my youngest to make an extra effort with his homework without using incentives. I see the point many people make, that once the job is done and the incentive is received, the child might slump into a stupor and the end result will be even worse. But I’m not quite sure that fits all age groups – I believe that incentives when they are young and learning all the basic stuff they’ll need to proceed successfully in the educational system can be good. Then comes the teen years, where the wiring is awry anyway. And – at a certain age, which I believe varies greatly from child to child, they will begin to understand the value of learning without incentives provided by us, the parents. Check out this story about a young Pakistani student.
The inspiration for this came out of this article in the New York Times. Not unusually, the pointer came from Marginal Revolution.
Here in the UK, incentives for children – also the very little ones – are all over the place. Gold stars and stickers are in every learning book for younger children – my young one loved and to a degree still loves it! In his school they get stickers for everything, which are put on their clothes so that everybody else can see. It’s for good behaviour, good spelling, strong effort, etc. etc. And there’s a weekly ceremony where the deserving children get a Certificate in front of the whole of the rest of the school. I don’t know that this works for all children – because the teachers try hard to give an equal number of certificates to all children. So some children, who don’t achieve very highly, will typically get a certificate for an effort or for good behaviour, while the high achievers get certificates for multiplication, reading, writing or whatever. But it most certainly works for mine!
Not exactly related, but I just stumbled over this on the School Gate blog on Times Online. It’s a Top Ten over books people lie about having read. Ha, that’s funny! I highlighted the three I’ve read. Cross my heart & hope to die. I HAVE read them!
If you also think that’s funny why don’t you make it into a meme and do the same thing on your blog and refer back to me. That would be interesting!
1. 1984 by George Orwell (42 percent) <Wonder what it would be like to re-read it now>
2. War and Peace by Leo Tolstoy (31 percent) <so far I’ve downloaded it to my Iphone…>
3. Ulysses by James Joyce (25 percent) <tried several times and gave up>
4. The Bible (it doesn’t say which testament! 24 percent) >read a chapter a day for a couple of years>
5. Madame Bovary by Gustave Flaubert (16 percent) <it’s good!>
6. A Brief History of Time by Stephen Hawking (15 percent) <haven’t even considered reading this>
7. Midnight’s Children by Salman Rushdie (14 percent) <it’s on the bookshelf…>
8. In Remembrance of Things Past by Marcel Proust (9 percent) <never got into Proust somehow?>
9. Dreams from my Father by Barack Obama (6 percent) <a neighbour has promised to lend it to me>
10. The Selfish Gene by Richard Dawkins (6 percent) <haven’t considered reading this either, don’t like Dawkins>
I wonder why people lie about the Orwell book (more or less understand the rest). It’s so short and so easily read?!? And yes, I actually read it before 1984.