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Dangerous Rewards
December 27, 2018
I have a new philosophy. I'm only going to dread one day at a time.
-Charlie Brown in "Peanuts"
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“Handing out colored bracelets and upbeat stickers when students behave well seems like an effective strategy for encouraging civility. Little prizes and public praise would seem to encourage honesty, generosity and other marks of good character, and for years schools have relied on such rewards to elicit the behavior they desire in their students,” begins an online article at kqed.org. But research says otherwise, the article explains:

“A substantial body of social science research going back decades has concluded that giving rewards for certain types of behavior is not only futile but harmful. In his book Drive: The Surprising Truth About What Motivates Us, Daniel Pink identifies seven drawbacks to extrinsic rewards: they cripple intrinsic motivation, limit performance, squash creativity, stifle good conduct, promote cheating, can become habit-forming, and spur a short-term mindset. Giving prizes for routine and mindless tasks can be moderately effective, Pink writes. But offering rewards for those tasks that are ‘inherently interesting, creative, or noble…is a very dangerous game.’ When it comes to promoting good behavior, extrinsic rewards are ‘the worst ineffective character education practice used by educators.’

Source: "How Ending Behavior Rewards Helped One School Focus on Student Motivation and Character," by Linda Flanagan, August 29, 2017.





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