Educational Quotations – Thoughts 7
“Rewards and punishments are the lowest form of education.
This debate has been going on for ages. Or, should I say, these debates because sometimes the rewards take precedence and sometimes the punishments.
The fact is that learning, gaining a solid foundation of knowledge, and growing intellectually are rewards!
There is no need to add artificial rewards. Of course, it is nice to get some small acknowledgement from time to time – a gold star, perhaps a special certificate, and so on; however, be careful that the only reason a student does anything is not because of the external reward. You might, in fact, be reducing the true reward after all!
As for punishment, I have never seen anyone do well long-term based on punishment. If you can instill a love of learning and an internal motivation – whether for your child, student, or yourself – you will be much further ahead.
I have had students who told be without being prompted that they won’t complete an assignment (or complete it well) for the teacher because there is no prize this time! If they have been getting prizes all the way along, it is a challenge for me to convince them that completing the assignment is still a good thing, and that completing the assignment is actually not “for the teacher” but actually for themselves. Trust me, rewards – at least the wrong rewards – can be a major issue.
Does that mean that all rewards and punishments are banned?
To start with, there are many interpretations of what “reward” is and what “punishment” is.
A student with behavioural issues might need some kind of time-out or other “punishment” from time to time in order to be prepared for learning, but this should be a rare occasion indeed.
As mentioned above, some recognition and certainly positive comments can be seen as rewards. Even the occasional “extra” reward can be beneficial – stress on occasional.
Punishment generally causes either anger or panic or both. In any case, the student freezes up and can’t or won’t move forward under these stressful conditions. This often leads to more punishment which leads to even more anger and frustration – which leads to more punishment….
You get the drift.
The primary goal is to have fun learning and find a student’s path toward reaching his or her true potential. Try to aim for a positive spiral of learning for its own sake rather than a negative one caused my grief (punishment) or extraneous expectation (reward).
Keep learning and keep having fun!