|Wednesday, September 5th, 2007||Robert Seith | CWK Producer|
“If you tell someone, ‘We're going to give you a reward,’ it's very exciting. Kids do great with what we call behavior modification. If you do something, you get rewarded for it.”
– Paula Bryman, LCSW
This fall, the city of New York is experimenting with a plan that would reward parents, in cash, for getting involved in their children's education. They are also considering a plan to pay children who get good grades. Some experts say this controversial approach has it limits.
Does a cash reward for good grades work? Some kids think so.
“I would actually try to study harder just for the money,” says Arketa, 16.
“I actually think that would be better than punishing us for bad grades because that doesn’t really motivate us,” says Cody, 17.
Proponents say the idea behind receiving money for good grades is well-founded.
“If you tell someone, ‘We’re going to give you a reward,’ it’s very exciting. Kids do great with what we call behavior modification. If you do something, you get rewarded for it,” says Paula Bryman, LCSW.
However, say experts say that kind of behavior modification has its limits.
“I think as a short-term, it probably works but not over the long haul,” says Sherry Blake, Ph.D., psychologist.
Blake says that over time, a child will not maintain the amount of effort it takes to get good grades if all they’re doing it for is a little cash at the end. To create good students long-term, she says a child has to internalize the value of learning.
“The joy of understanding something new, the joy of achieving a goal we want that to come from within if we’re only using external measures,” says Blake.
“If it is money or something elaborate, then a child doesn’t learn the joy of learning,” Blake continues. “What the child learns is the message that is sent: ‘if I do this then I get this.’”
Many students will say that good grades mean you’ve done well and that’s the real reward.
“You don’t need to get money. You don’t need to get privileges. You just need to pass your classes. You need to go to school, and you need to get your education yourself. You don’t need any help. I think you can do it on your own,” says Ashleigh, 17.