Tuesday, June 19, 2007


Some NYC Schools are paying students!

Alfie Kohn in his book “Punished by Rewards” is warning teachers about the dangers of rewards being doled out to their students. He is proposing that the popular theory of rewarding positive behavior is only a contrived way of controlling students. We as educators are not doing the students any favors by rewarding or punishing. Ultimately he makes the claim that “rewarding is punishing.”

I am defiantly intrigued by Kohn’s ideas, but I wonder how they would fit into a classroom that is already preconditioned to search for praise by years of schooling under their belt.

Alfie Kohn needs to speak up about this recent NYC program.

Below I excerpted from today's NY Times:

"Cash incentives for adults will include $150 a month for keeping a full-time job and $50 a month for having health insurance. Families will also receive as much as $50 per month per child for high attendance rates in school, as well as $25 for attending parent-teacher conferences.

The city has already raised much of the $53 million it needs for the program, Ms. Gibbs said. The effort, which officials said was the broadest ever tried in this country to pay poor people to develop good habits, is modeled in part on one in Mexico."

Below is another link:
Daily News


Anonymous said...

From my knowledge and experience of reinforcement, I was under the impression that students should be encouraged to achieve as a result of their natural rewards.
When students are in elementary school, an “A” on a report card might not mean as much as a candy bar or free time on a computer, but if they are paired together, over time students will begin to recognize the rewards of success. As students begin to understand the connection, and become more mature the reinforcement may change from a tangible candy bar to praise and the feeling of success that high school students are able to identify.
I reward high school students by hanging their work on display, sharing successes with the entire group as well as various other ways.
Ideally, we hope that students learn because they want to learn. I feel this idea of bribery will set a poor example for what we’ve worked so hard to achieve- encouraging students to appreciate the natural rewards for hard work and the things they do.

ms. whatsit said...

I've read quite a few posts by NYC teachers regarding this new program. All of them (that I've read) have strong sentiment against this program. It certainly seems daft to me. Not sure where the justification for it came from. Who's the administrator in charge of that decision?

Personally, I'm a big fan of the Love & Logic method of discipline and motivation. It's too bad the system couldn't figure out a way to make those values a higher priority than money.

But then again, I don't live in NY, so it's easy for me to misjudge. . .

Arielle K said...

I think we all agree that children should be EXPECTED to do well in school and to study and that paying for what is accepted is not right, but if it's the only way for some students to actually look at the material and at the very least graduate high school, it may not be the worst initiative. And I say this again and again, I do believe these things should be expected. I grew up in a very competitive upper middle class school district but I think in general, in the lower income areas, parents are not necessarily paying enough attention, are not pushing thier kids, and the kids don't care. And don't get me wrong, that's not to say that there are not exceptions on either side of the spectrum because there are...there will always be the handful of kids in the upper middle class neighborhood who always cut school, never study and don't graduate and there will always be the handful of kids and parents who actually care in the lower income areas.