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"Should Kids be Bribed to do Well in School?"
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"Should Kids be Bribed to do Well in School" read the screaming headline. Its purpose was, of course, to set up a negative mindset in the reader before she even had a chance to read the article.

The article itself pointed out that financial and other tangible rewards for children in school gave mixed results, depending on type and timing. I was concerned that there were two issues not really addressed.

First, children need more immediate results from their actions than do adults. Delayed gratification is a learned skill. A reward in terms of a report card that is months away from the activity or test (or a good job some years in the future) is far too distant to be truly rewarding.

How would you feel if you were paid every three months?

Second, there is always the idea that children should learn for the love of learning. Academic successes should be their own intrinsic rewards. Well, sorry, but for some that will be true, but for many the love of learning extends to the intricacies of auto repair, the latest iPod or other gadget, the next musical piece for the sax, whatever.

Children who are asked to learn what for them is not particularly intrinsically interesting need some kind of immediate or proximate reward, not necessarily money, but something that is valued and enjoyed.

So, I would delete the word "Bribe" from the title as unnecessarily pejorative. Insert the word "Reward". Good teachers do have a way of combining instruction, encouragement and rewards for students, in addition to report cards.

Come to think of it, good supervisors and managers have many of the same coaching/teaching skills. Employees work not only for the money, but for good working conditions and a sense of teamwork and appreciation. Children should have the same consideration.

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