Rewards in the classroom or not?

Posted: April 1, 2011 in Uncategorized

Today we were lucky enough to have an inspiring guest speaker. Principal, George Couros, spoke about what characteristics good teachers possess. I really enjoyed the presentation. One part of the talk really stood out in my mind. The topic of awards/honours/rewards in the classroom came up. I was somewhat shocked to hear negative connotations go along with these such things. I have heard of intrinsic and extrinsic motivation and I have heard about the importance of students having intrinsic motivation but I have never heard about having rewards in the classroom as being such a negative thing. I have used rewards and awards in my practice teaching and had always thought of it as “celebrating achievements” and a positive thing. After this topic was brough up I was interested in finding out more about it so I googled the topic and read an article about it which I can relate to. I think having no rewards would be ideal and it would be great if everyone only had intrinsic motivation but I don’t see it as being realistic. I would really like to see how a classroom without any rewards/awards/honours etc. would look like. I would like to use as little rewards in my future classroom as possible but I’m not sure if I would not have any at all. One of my favourite quotes from the article was :

“In setting up my first classroom (third grade), I really wanted to avoid rewards. I dreamed of my students working for knowledge’s sake. However, after trial and error, I found that kids respond to rewards really well and sometimes you just have to use what works. The teachers before us most likely showered our current students with rewards, so they probably expect it by now. Also, teachers (and all employees) work for a reward – money. How many of us would work and try hard if we weren’t getting a salary? Money and rewards in general make the world go round, whether it’s a pretty picture or not.”

What do you think?

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