Candy Bribes

Our school is a PBIS school.  As such we are to use a common language, working towards creating a community of common goals, and expectations.  That’s all well and good because I believe that having everyone row in the same direction benefits a school.  I also believe in discipline before instruction, recognizing you can’t teach jack-sh*t until those kids are with you.

One thing I’m not into, however, is the overwhelming amount of rewards that I’m expected to give all in the name of being “positive.”  Now I admit that I’m so old I gave birth to dirt.  As such, I rock a pretty old-fashioned Puritan value system (you know, for an atheist).  Quite frankly I actually believe that hard work is its own reward.  I get down on my knees and praise with a hearty AMEN at Camus’ idea of “Imagine Sisyphus happy.”  I am not one to give a kid a green ticket for standing in line not bugging his or her neighbor.

You know why?  Because I EXPECT that a kid can stand in line without touching his neighbor.  I also expect his or her homework to be done, completed to the best of his/her ability, and turned in on time.  I expect him/her to clean the classroom, start his/her work  on time, and to be kind to others. You know why?  Because it’s the RIGHT thing to do.

I have a huge issue with rewards.  They run counter to everything I believe in life.  Especially the idea of motivation.  People who are extrinsically motivated tend to be pretty unhappy, and, quite frankly, a sh*t-load of work.  They never seem to learn to do things because they need to be done (duty), for the joy of doing something well, or because its their job.  It’s always about WHAT they will get.  Apparently satisfaction can only be achieved with junk or stuff.

It’s not that I object to all rewards, just the idea that we can’t expect students to function appropriately without them.  I mean, really, do you HAVE to give out candy to get kids to sit in the right seat, do their work, and play nice in the sandbox with you?  If you do, what does that really say about your management style?  I get that kids will do anything for a Jolly Rancher (which I’ve been known to use from time to time), but if it’s your only trick, why aren’t you looking at your craft or the community? After all, what happens if you remove the reward?  ‘Cause if you won’t stop because the kids wont’ behave, then you’re the problem.

If you really think about it, there’s something deeply wrong with a society that can’t or won’t function without reward.


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