Image by Old Shoe Woman via Flickr
After reading this interesting article I really wanted to get my thoughts down right away.
The article seems to be saying if we pay students every week or two to for concrete actions that we know will improve learning than paying for grades works.
We aren’t paying for grades so to speak but motivating students to do those mundane tasks they don’t like, but which we as teachers know will help them learn.
If we pay a student to read a book, or pay a student to control his/her behavior, or show up to school, or any of those things we as educators know our students need to do to be successful, is it wrong? It’s just another way to motivate our students. I'm not really fond of paying money to go to school, but I like it better than spending so much of my time talking about discipline.
One of the biggest complaints of middle school grade math teachers is that students don’t have basic skills. They can’t do simple computations in their heads. If we paid students to memorize the times tables in 3rd grade would we still have this problem?
Here’s how it might work: The third grade teachers teaches how to multiply in anyway he/she feels best, but after the multiplication unit the teacher starts to pay students $1 every time they get 100% on a weekly multiplication facts test. Multiplication concepts are still taught constructively if the teacher wants, but the memorization of the facts is paid for. Students are intrinsically motivated to learn how to multiply and externally motivated to memorize facts.
The creative pursuit of mathematics is no longer sullied by the introduction of crass rewards. Tangible rewards that might actually have a long term negative effect on learning.