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Wednesday, April 11, 2007

Economic Incentives

When I was a kid, some of my friends got rewarded monetarily for good grades. $20 for an A, $10 for a B, $5 for a C, etc. My parents did not subscribe to this method of bribery, feeling that learning is its own reward.

Well screw that! The Council for Industry and Higher Education in the UK has just released a report calling for the government to stop the ever-accelerating exodus from math and science at there A-level schools by providing cash rewards for good scores. I doubt very seriously that this is going to bring many new students into the fray, but it just may be the extra incentive that a good student needs to become a great student. I realize I am advocating something that many may find thoroughly atrocious. In many ways, I agree. But there's no arguing with the almighty dollar- or in this case the pound.

Seriously, throw a little of that cash my way.


Andy said...

My parents have the same philosophy as your folks, which I think is the correct one. Two additional thoughts:

There's a great book called "Punished By Rewards" that I read in my psych class in college. It goes in depth into what can go wrong when you take someone's intrinsic motivation away.

From a purely anecdotal standpoint, one of my childhood friends from grade school - Alex (you never met him) - was constantly bribed by his parents with toys, etc to bring home good grades. This sort of pressure to perform finally caught up with everyone when he started failing out of college later in life. He snapped and bludgeoned both his parents to death, rather than admit he was failing. That's probably an *extreme* case, but I don't think that material rewards for classroom accomplishments are the right answer.

Tony said...

I don't seriously think we should pay kids to get good grades, folks. Although, I think it makes more sense to reward kids for what they have already achieved than it does to award scholarships based on what tests predict they will achieve.