Wednesday, August 6, 2008

Adverse effects of rewards

A long long time ago,
in the southern part of China,
there lived an old old man,
who loved peace and quiet very much.

On one particular fine day,
a group of noisy children came along,
as did what children do best,
and that is to make as much noise as possible.

The old man was very fustrated,
he had to think of a way to make the noise go away.
So he thought and thought,
and finally he had an idea!

He called the children to come near him,
and gave each one of them a dollar,
he thanked them for making so much noise,
so that he no longer feels lonliness anymore.

The children were delighted with the reward,
they didn't know that making noise would earn them money.
The next day they came and made noise,
the old man told them that he hadn't much money,
so he would have to pay them 50 cents less.

The children were sad,
but they said it's ok,
they would still return to make noise the next day.

The next day came and went,
the old man only gave them 25 cents,
they were very sad,
but still they said it was ok.

The following day the old man told them he didn't have any money to give them anymore,
the children were horrified.
"No money and you expect us to make so much noise!?"
And from that day on,
peace and serenity was restored......

Sometimes we reward our children for getting good grades,
like getting them a playstation if they got an A,
then they would only be studying because they want the playstation, the reward, it's their goal, to get the reward. This would take away the joy of studying. When you don't have a reward for them the next time, they wouldn't want to study anymore. "Why study when there's no reward, it would be a waste of my time?" just like the children in the story who wouldn't want to 'work' for free. They view studying as work, and the reward as their pay. So studying is no longer play. That's why I do not believe in the reward philosophy of education. It could be used as a bait, a method of inducing the child to get interested in study first, and then to let the child enjoy the process of study.....

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