Sexta-feira, 18/1/2019 | : : UTC-5
The Reflection

Teacher leave those kids alone: Rewards unnecessary in the classroom

2 votes
The Our Side column is reflective of a discussed and voted on issue that is representative of the opinion of the staff on a particular issue and is written by the editor. The 2016 Reflection staff believes that students should exercise their right to vote but should be informed on current issues and possible candidates. Photo by Cheryl Jolin

The Our Side column is reflective of a discussed and voted on issue that is representative of the opinion of the staff on a particular issue and is written by the editor. The 2016 Reflection staff believes that students should exercise their right to vote but should be informed on current issues and possible candidates. Photo by Cheryl Jolin

By the time students reach high school, they’ve had plenty of experience of how to get the best rewards out of faculty: from movies in class, unwarranted extra credit, a treat (often times candy) or time spent outside. These students have been rewarded since elementary school for good behavior by teachers who hope that rewarding them will indefinitely cement that good behavior.  Despite their good intentions, often these teachers go wrong with the rewards and students only model the good behavior when they want rewards–in short–rewarding students doesn’t lead to an overall positive change in behavior, just intelligent mimicking to get what they want.

Behaviorism is the technical psychological theory that largely affects how students are educated. The theory is only notes observable behavior; it disregards all mental activity or intrinsic learning needed for real learning to happen in a pupil. Behaviorism becomes a rather backward idea, since schools are for the purpose of educating students who, prior to their entrance to school, had little knowledge of anything whatsoever, yet behaviorist rewards and punishments are often how elementary (and also high school) students are educated.

[click here to view a PDF of a Kansas schools’ reward policy, a good example of standard reward policies in school.]

Behaviorism does take place outside of school settings as well. A common example is that of potty training. Go pee in the toilet and here’s an M&M. It seems like a flawless system, but inherently isn’t. The child will start to understand that using the toilet equates to a treat, and then they will be expecting that treat. So what happens when the treat is taken away? Sure, the child knows how to use the “potty,” but they expect the reward. Then a tantrum ensues from the enraged toddler.

Now consider this scenario from within the classroom. Students only willingly learn on the premise that they get a reward for doing so. It works just fine maybe for a few years, maybe for the entirety of elementary school. However, students can’t be rewarded forever, and in middle school and high school, the rewards are going to be weaned and eventually taken away completely. Do you think these students aren’t going to rebel?

Setting up students to believe that they deserve rewards for all of the work that they do sets them up to failure in more than one way. Not only does it bring rebellion and frustration into a high school classroom, it sets them up for failure in the real world. A real world work place isn’t going to coddle their employers so work gets done, rather they are going to expect that the work can be done without incentive. In high school we do get a grade as the reward, but we wait for it just like in the workforce we wait for a paycheck. However, not so in all classes–with other rewards in place at the high school level, this becomes a stark change for the coddled, rewarded student to walk into corporate life and see no active incentive to work there.

All hope is not to be lost, though. Another branch of psychology can easily replace that of behaviorism in the classroom. The “Control Theory of Motivation” has two branches: boss leads towards behaviorism, and lead leans away. Instead of convincing students to do their work through a mostly undeserved treat, lead teachers help their students understand that the work they do is essential to their needs. Their mode of motivation for students to learn is the grade itself. This theory will work with standardized curriculum, but also protects students from only doing minimum requirements; otherwise it encourages them to learn more, and do it willingly without unnecessary rewards.


Sierra Rehm
About

Hi, it’s Sierra here. I have been a member of the Gull Lake community for my lifetime so far. I have always lived, learned, and grown in the Richland area. This year is my Senior year at Gull Lake and my third and final year as a staff member on the Reflection. My time working on the paper has not only evolved my skill and grown my passion for writing and reporting, it has heightened my sense of school spirit. For the past two years I have contributed as the staff video editor, as well as feature and entertainment editor; which means I monitor and edit articles within those areas on the website. In total I have won three MIPA awards within the two prior years on staff,(first, honorable mention, and third) all of which involve video production. I spend the rest of my time doing school work, writing for personal enjoyment, working, or spending time with friends.

POST YOUR COMMENTS

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.

Contact Us

Email: journalism@gulllakecs.org

Phone: (269)488-5020

Address: Gull Lake High School, 7753 N. 34th Street, Richland, MI 49083

Advertisement

Advertisement

What’s Your Opinion?