Thursday, July 2, 2009

Would You Work for Free?

I am officially sick of having a hurting knee and I want to RUN!!!!!!!!

While we are on the topic of things that I want, I also want it to stop raining and be summer!!!!

Okay, that's enough exclamation points for one post. Yesterday I was a great triathlon training girl, I swam in the morning and went on a bike ride with Ash in the afternoon. Yes, I would bike much more often if Ash lived near me. But I took her to the airport last night so no more Ash and Kel bike rides for awhile. Luckily I still have my sis to bike with me, because I basically have not biked alone in weeks and I'm pretty sure I have no motivation to do it.

Today I did not do any training because I had a crazy busy day with the kiddos. I did have PT though. One of the only things I like about PT (besides the fact that I do feel like I am building my leg muscles, which is nice) is that I now actually watch the news at night because it is on there. Today a very interesting story came up about one strategy that a failing school in Washington DC is using to try to help their students. They are paying their students for good behavior and good grades. WOW!!! As a teacher, I was IMMEDIATELY interested. But actually, anyone who is a parent, might become a parent, or cares about society at all should be interested.

At first thought the idea sounds CRAZY. We are going to pay kids to do what they are supposed to be doing? If you think about it though, I would not work for free- and yet we expect kids to do it all the time. If money was no factor to me, I would still do something productive with my day- maybe work part time or volunteer- but I would definitely not work the kind of crazy days I have now, and yet when I was a teenager my life was probably equally insane and I was receiving no extrinsic rewards at all.

This also brings up the moral question of whether or not you believe in giving children rewards at all or whether you believe kids should do the right thing because it's the right thing. Ideally, of course, kids would do the right thing because it's the right thing. But what if they don't? Here is how I see this:

Pros to Paying Kids: The fact of the matter is, there really are not a lot of rewards or consequences for kids right now. Usually when a child is incredibly rude and does something bad in my classroom I will inform the parents. Although the parents often claim to be shocked by their child's behavior, they also often blame other children in the class, the situation or some other external factor other than the child simply being rude. On top of that, most of these kids treat their parents the same way. Most parents do not want their child to be punished at school and there are only so many options about what to do anyways, particularly with older kids. If we had a reward that would really get kids motivated, it would benefit all students because most kids would be more motivated and therefore there would be less behavior problems that affect all children. Plus, this is being implemented right now at a very low performing school. Perhaps if we pay those kids, they could gain motivation and lead truly successful lives. The fact is, where you end up in life has a lot to do with choices you make at a very young age. Hopefully, your parents make many of those decisions for you, but of course in a lot of cases that does not happen.

Cons to Paying Kids: I think the major con here is what kind of society we are promoting and what we are teaching children if we begin paying them for doing the right thing at a young age. I also wonder if kids who already have all they need would not be motivated by this at all since young kids don't normally have a lot of bills to pay.

Overall, even though my pro list LOOKS longer, I think it's probably not a good long term solution for kids. What do you guys think?


  1. Great double workouts yesterday!

    Interesting question. I definitely think it's okay to reward children in moderation, but it camn easily be taken overboard and it can get to the point where they won't do something without a reward (not good)!

  2. Very interesting question. I think it really depends on the situation. My parents used to give me rewards, but nothing huge, just little "tokens of appreciation". I would have to consider the situation because many time i think it's important to teach children that doing the right thing is expected...but at the same time they need to learn how to live in the "real world" and deal with money and saving, etc. I agree with your agruments 100%

    Ugh, I hope your knee starts feeling better. I hate being injured, I sort of feel your pain. :(

  3. I think actually paying kids really money is crazy talk, and this is coming from a good student who didn't act out in class. The purpose of school is to learn so that when you graduate, you can make money. It's called "working hard!!!" although people just want to take the easy way out. They should instead teach them about setting goals. Achieving a goal is so much more rewarding than a $5, which will be gone the next day.

  4. I don't like the idea of paying kids at all. I think our culture is shifting towards this idea of instant gratification. Kids think - I did this, now what do I get for it? We do alot of things in life that don't pay off immediately. No, it wasn't always fun to study for tests in HS, work hard, etc, but my parents always 'kept my eye on the prize' by reminding me that getting good grades would prepare me for college and help me get a scholarship. Etc, etc. I know that my line of thought is not applicable to kids that comes from disadvantaged socio-economic backgrounds...

    No, none of us would work for free, but many of us probably feel like we are underpaid for what we do in our jobs. That doesn't mean I quick or stop doing the things that I don't feel compensated for. I just keep working and hope that this will all pay off in the form of future promotions/raises/bonuses.

    Very interesting post, though!

  5. I think part of the problem is the kids who do not have parents who are helping them to develop goals and "keep their eyes on the prize." Teachers can do this to some extent but if the kids go home to parents who don't care at all...they might need extra motivation. Especially when it comes to things like homework, which most kids need at least reminders to complete.
    I still don't like the idea of paying kids...I'm just pointing out how it's come to this.

  6. I want to run sooo much, too! I'm tired of the stupid nose recovery :(

    I don't really like the idea of paying kids money for schoolwork. I can see other small rewards/privileges, but they really don't have a need for hard cash (rent and bills-wise). I like Lisa's point about the current need for instant gratification.

  7. I think it all comes back to HOW the kids have been raised until school age. I have always WANTED to do well and I've always had ambition, so when I started going to school I WANTED to do well, the fact that my parents would reward me was beside the point.

    I think that when I have kids I will give them SPONTANEOUS awards for good behaviour, like my parents did for me. I won't make it a regular thing so the kid doesn't expect it, but I do think it IS important to reward kids for good behaviour and good grades!

  8. I don't know how I feel about the paying thing. In some ways, I sympathise with the school - the parents haven't raised the kids to behave well so the school and teachers are stuck btw a rock and a hard place. And if money works, then perhaps it's better than just letting kids be wild and perform poorly. But it's just a band-aid solution. I think parents are the ones who need to be educated to work with their kids more.