Parents/Teachers Using Bribery

Discussion in 'General Education' started by Ms. I, Nov 1, 2007.

  1. Ms. I

    Ms. I Maven

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    Most of us do it. We give stickers, candy, etc. as a reward for students doing the correct behavior, getting a certain score on a test, turning in homework, etc., etc. Giving a little motivational incentive is one thing, but it can go too far.

    One of the 4th grade students I work with (fortunately for only 30 minutes 2x's a week) is the class clown & he's proud of it. But he told me that his mom's going to give him $10 if he doesn't have to pull a card all week.

    What does everyone think about using bribery, expecially money, to make sure kids are performing? The bad thing is that the kid will expect it when they should be behaving that way anyway. What's the mother going to do, pay him $10 every week for the rest of the school year?! Will he not act right unless he's paid?

    If I was a parent, I'd never want to start getting into that habit.
     
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  3. smalltowngal

    smalltowngal Multitudinous

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    I understand the point that you are trying to make. I think some of it boils down to the parents wanting an easy fix to the behavior, and this just seemed to fit for the the mother. When my daughter hits school, I expect her to do well in school and behave because it is expected of her.
     
  4. 3Sons

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    Implemented properly, it's positive reinforcement. "Bribery" has no meaning in behavioral control -- but that's not to say there aren't effects you need to worry about.

    The best pos.reinforcement is on a variable schedule. You don't give it every time someone does something except very early on. It's also best to gradually phase the obvious material rewards out, in return for praise or general approval. On a fixed schedule like the fourth-grader, the behavior is brittle, and will disappear shortly after stopping reinforcement. It also suffers the effect of loose temporal association to the behavior.

    A couple of your examples also have the problem of the temporality of what the teacher would wish to reinforce. You mention "getting a certain score on a test" -- well, you're going to give this reward after you've scored the test, right, which may be several days after they've taken it? Too late to make a connection between the test and the reward, behaviorally (probably). And, you don't really want to reward getting the score at all. What you really want to reward is the studying that presumably came before the test, further weakening your association.

    Same thing with turning in homework (though it's probably closer in time). You really want to reward them doing the homework, not turning it in.

    This also goes to a common bit of wisdom: you don't praise for being smart, you praise for working hard. This is reflected well in Japanese language -- they have words like "kenmei" (clever) and "atama ga ii" (smart), but they usually don't use them, and would usually embarrass the recipient as being too different. Typically, they'll say "Ganbatta ne", which is "You really tried hard, didn't you?" (I've seen "Ganbatte!" mistranslated occasionally as "Good Luck!" when it's really "Do your best!").

    Variable schedule. If you formalize it, don't let the child know what the schedule is. Phase out hard reinforcers gradually.
     
  5. Ms. I

    Ms. I Maven

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    ^ I agree. It's like training dogs & other animals. They're not going to remember & associate what they did if the reward is way later. It has to be done right at the time or, seconds after.

    I've seen a lot of teachers who put the marble in a big jar & when it's finally filled up, they get a pizza or popcorn party. I don't know if I like that one. Sure, it will probably get filled up eventually, even if it takes all school year. But in the meantime, between the good behavior, I'm sure there's plenty of misbehavior.
     
  6. iheart5thgrade

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    I agree completely. I can't stand it when my students tell me their parents are paying them for every A they get on their report card. They need to learn to be motivated from within, not because they are getting paid.
     
  7. MissFroggy

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    At my school we don't use any rewards. The goal is to have students intrinsicly motivated. I believe 99% of our students are completely motivated to do work without a reward (or grades.) Our school is preschool-6th grade, and no one gets a grade the entire time. We don't do rewards either. People can learn to be intrinsicly motivated, and will do a good job without rewards or grades. We also try really hard not to praise without honesty... just saying "good job" for no reason, but to be honest and sincere, and often to say things like, "are you proud of it?" when they ask if I like it.
    I have kids at the end of the day saying "I want the day to keep going! I love school!" That makes a teacher feel good. (It's a reward for me!)

    --In my 4 years at this school, I have only had 1 student who is not motivated; and his problems run deep in his home life, in his academics, and in general.
     
  8. agdamity

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    I've seen a lot of teachers who put the marble in a big jar & when it's finally filled up, they get a pizza or popcorn party. I don't know if I like that one. Sure, it will probably get filled up eventually, even if it takes all school year. But in the meantime, between the good behavior, I'm sure there's plenty of misbehavior.[/FONT][/SIZE][/COLOR][/QUOTE]

    AMEN!!!! This year, at my school, we are REQUIRED to do this marble jar activity. It's been 10 1/2 weeks of school, my jar is not filled, and there has been tons of misbehavior in my room. To make it worse, when the reward is given, ALL students will participate, even though there are 2 or 3 who misbehave 80-90% of the time! This does nothing to motivate any of my students.
     
  9. frodolass

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    I think Alfie Kohn has some interesting ideas. I may not agree with everything he says, but he makes a good point about using rewards: "...students who see themselves as doing an assignment in order to receive a gold star, an A, or an award are actually less likely to develop an interest in the subject matter or to challenge themselves to do their best. By the same token, stickers, popcorn parties, and even praise give students no reason to act responsibly when there is no longer a goody to be gained for doing so."

    http://www.alfiekohn.org/index.html
     
  10. Ms. I

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    Miss Froggy, I like how your school does things. No rewards & kids are still motivated is great. Kids should be expected to do what's expected of them. I mean it's mandatory to go to school, no one should pay anyone to go to school.
     
  11. runsw/scissors

    runsw/scissors Phenom

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    This comes back to the whole intrinsic/extrinsic motivation argument. While I have never found a good solution to the whole thing, you have to agree that some kids are not motivated from within. In fact, most aren't The good grades (or behaviors) come from not wanting to disappiont someone (parents, grandparents, teacher, whoever is important to them), not wanting to get in trouble, etc. Likewise, many poor behaviors (and maybe grades?) are the result of outside influences as well: peer preassure, trying to detract from one's difficulties or inabilities, desire to "get back" at someone whether an authority figure or a peer, etc.

    I don't agree with out and out bribery. "If you behave I'll but you a toy/take you out for pizza/etc." on a regular basis is a bad idea because it does instill the mindset that if there's nothing in it for me, I won't perform. But it's not all bad. Stickers on papers are a little reward and can make a child's day. It is a way of acknowledging a job well done or effort put forth. A treat now and then is not harmful. It should be sporadic, and when my kids start in with "If we're really good, will you take us our for an extra recess," my immediate answer is No. I do let them have extra recesses or small prizes or treats occasionally, but they are always a surprise when they happen.

    And before we start going to town with the evils of rewards, let's remember that many adults accumulate frequent flyer miles, have purchase punch cards so that they can eventually earn a free coffee or whatever, and we all earn our paychecks. And there is the opperative word-earn. Any reward must be earned. If it's just given it's worthless. Let's not be too quick to judge the system as completely, totally, and inherently bad.
     
  12. MrsPatten

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    This reminds me of something one of my kids said the first week of school. "Mrs. Patten if I be good all day you gonna give me a prize?" My reply was "Why should I give you something for doing what you're supposed to do?"

    When they do something exceptional or, for example, when only three people were on task when the Maintenance guy was fixing my light yesterday, I'll give prizes. But as a rule I don't give out prizes--they have to learn to act right because that's just what they're supposed to do.
     
  13. runsw/scissors

    runsw/scissors Phenom

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    I tell my students that I do sometimes give out small prizes or allow free time, but it will always be a surprise. You never know when it'll happen. If they ever start asking or trying to bargain the answer will always be "no", so they are better off just keeping their mouths shut about it.
     
  14. eduk8r

    eduk8r Enthusiast

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    ouch...did you really mean that?
     
  15. Ms. I

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    I'm not saying it to be degrading at all. I'm just saying that the strategy for effective dog training is giving them a treat as soon as or w/i seconds after it happens to most effectively train. The things w/ dogs is that you don't have a give a reward forever. Giving the treat during training will train them to be that way when the command is given since they will soon learn that their master is the alpha of the pack. Sorry if it sounded bad to anyone, but I have a purebreed & have observed the dog show world & have taken my dog to obedience training class.
     
  16. eduk8r

    eduk8r Enthusiast

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    okay, Ms. I. I don't know though, it sounded kind of like when women talk about their men as if they were dogs to be trained, instead of their partners... it's not necessarily the words but the beliefs it implies that gets me. You know?
     
  17. KinderCowgirl

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    I remember learning behavior modification in psych class-- the random rewards worked best. The mouse didn't get the cheese every time the ran the maze, but only some of the time, no pattern to it - he still ran the maze every time.

    In my class the rewards are not "things"; they are privileges - holding the teacher's keys (I don't understand this one but they love to do it), working at my desk for the day, eating lunch in the classroom on Fridays. I don't think it hurts to give them something to work for, that's the way our society is run - why do adults work extra hard for a bonus or some businesses give the employee of the month the good parking space?
     
  18. eduk8r

    eduk8r Enthusiast

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    just like slot machines... :)

    exactly!
     
  19. TeacherGroupie

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    It also doesn't hurt to give recognition when someone isn't expecting it.
     
  20. eduk8r

    eduk8r Enthusiast

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    True. It feels good actually. :)
     
  21. kabd54

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    I remember the reaction I got as a child when I asked my father if I was going to get a bike if I did well on my report card.:eek: I was told that it was expected that I do my best. End of story. There would be no bikes given for doing what was expected.

    It's pretty much the same philosophy that we have/had with our own four children (all in university and grad school now). All of them are excellent students, but we told them from the beginning that everyone has a job to do in life and for now theirs is doing their best in school.

    My students.... well, it's a bit different... :blush: I have the sticker chart and they can put a sticker on if they've done all their work for the day. When the line is filled, they get to go to Mrs. D's Treasure Box. But, I don't give stickers for work that is done poorly and/or in a rush. It has to be their best effort and a job well done.
     
  22. 3Sons

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    And what sort of beliefs does starting this with "Parents/Teachers using bribery" imply?
     
  23. Mrs.Rhinochunks

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    I do not offer rewards in my classroom for expected behavior. We live in a very hot area so I supply my kids with water bottles that they must refill and if they, as a class, have 5 days of perfect attendance in a row I bring a small treat. I did have movie night in my classroom just for the fun of it and occassionally I give them 15 minutes to play games at the end of the day if they have worked hard but I do not schedule it ot tell them it is going to happen. I like them to be surprised by the rewards and I do not do it often. I definitely want them to work hard and stay on task because they are in school and that is simply the expectation.

    We are a society of "what's in it for me" and we are allowing children to lose the value of doing the right thing for its own sake.
     
  24. eduk8r

    eduk8r Enthusiast

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    That is an excellent question. It means corruption legally...and it's a term I've never thought of in connection with my own kids or my classroom kids. I think in terms of reward, appreciation... to tell you the truth when I see that term used with kids I think of powerless adults and spoiled children! :eek:
     
  25. Ms. I

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    Definitions

    I wanted to look up in the dictionary the exact definitions of the words BRIBE and INCENTIVE. They are as follows:

    bribe
    n.
    1. Something offered or given to a person to influence that person's views or conduct.
    2. Something serving to influence or persuade.

    incentive
    n.
    Something, such as the expectation of reward, that induces action or motivates effort.

    What does everyone think? I think they're both pretty close to how we do it in our classrooms. So technically, one may say it's bribery when we offer stickers, etc. for the behavior. Bribery doesn't just involve money after all.
    Others want to say it's an incentive because they'd (gasp!) hate to think they're using bribery since that term is considered a negative thing.
     
  26. eduk8r

    eduk8r Enthusiast

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    It does have a negative connotation for me, because it's usually used in conjunction with corruption in government...I realize that's a subjective perspective. :)
     
  27. runsw/scissors

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    When I think of bribery, I think of someone who has no other means of getting what they need or want than paying someone off in some fashion. Or at the very least this is one of the very few effective ways they know. Back to my example above, punch cards and frequent flyer miles are incentive because the companies are trying to encourage rather than control or force us to do something. They want us to use their products, but they can't make us. However, (in my opinion) all those wonderful credit card junk mailings we get telling us "no interest for the next ______" is bribery since they really don't offer much else.

    I don't think stickers are a pay off for good behavior depending how you use them. I only put them on papers of A of B quality or that show marked improvement. Incentive charts (when used properly or in certain situations) are a tracking device. Anything that is misused or presented as "I'll do this if you're good/get good grades/etc." can become a means of bribery. I know someone who gives her middle schoolers candy bars, Arby's coupons, you name it because (I guess) she can't get them to behave any other way. But the same kids are off the wall in every other class since they know they aren't getting the candy/coupons/etc. from the other teachers. That's a problem.
     
  28. TeacherGroupie

    TeacherGroupie Moderator

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    I wonder if one of the functions of education is to teach us how best to bribe ourselves and what it is appropriate (or necessary) to bribe ourselves for.

    If you'd rather use a different term, feel free.
     
  29. runsw/scissors

    runsw/scissors Phenom

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    I'm not sure I follow.
     
  30. eduk8r

    eduk8r Enthusiast

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    ...maybe I'm dreaming...but I'm thinking that professional development in Hawaii would be nice bribery, just for a start... :)
     
  31. runsw/scissors

    runsw/scissors Phenom

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    Yeah, I could handle that.
     
  32. TeacherGroupie

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    Learning how and when to bribe ourselves, as in knowing ourselves well enough to know the things we ought to do and to know, of those, which we'll do unbribed and which we have to carrot-and-shtick ourselves into.
     
  33. czacza

    czacza Multitudinous

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    Bribery is a crime implying a sum or gift given that alters the behavior of the person in ways not consistent with the duties of that person.
    In other words it is a gift bestowed to pervert the judgement or behavior of a person. Giving rewards as an INCENTIVE is not a bribe... You may not agree with it or like it, but it's not bribery when a reward is used to get someone to do what they are supposed to do.

    When you have a safe driving record you get rewarded with lower premiums- is that bribery?
    no
    Airline frequent flier miles, bribery?
    no

    Bonuses for sales professionals who go above their sales quota, bribery?
    no

    so why call it bribery when someone gives a sticker (or some other reward) for good behavior/good grades. Sure, sure I know Alfie Kohn thinks kids are punished by rewards, that kids should be intrinically rewarded...blah, blah, blah. don't do it if you don't like it. There's a certain amount to be said though for setting goals, working towards them and being rewarded for making the goals.
     
  34. Ms. I

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    Speaking of this topic, I give the students a chance to get two extra stickers when they bring back their parent signed IEP documents. It's because it's a real pain to get this paper back from these kids & they constantly lose & forget them & these papers have to be returned in a timely manner. Well, just yesterday, regarding the kid getting two extra stickers, one of the speech pathologists for the district said & I quote, "Yes, bribery always works!"
     
  35. czacza

    czacza Multitudinous

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    I would have told her it's not bribery, it's positive reinforcement....:whistle:
     
  36. runsw/scissors

    runsw/scissors Phenom

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    I give extra credit points to any student who brings their test back signed the next day.
     
  37. Ms. I

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    We were communicating via email when she said that & I wasn't going to contradict someone who could help influence if I keep working or not. (I'm a long-term sub).
     
  38. Docere

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    Ooh, I absolutely hate it when parents do things like that. I remember when I was in middle school and one of my friends got $100 dollars every quarter she got all A's. In fact, I think most of my friends through middle school and high school got some kind of payment for each grade they earned (an A = $50, a B $40, etc.). And once while I was standing in a line at Costco, I heard a father telling his approximately ten-year-old son that if he did his homework all semester they would take him to Disney Land over winter break. I mean, Disney Land!

    I think this is all sending kids a negative message. If kids get paid $100 and get to go to Disney Land for doing what they're supposed to, how will they ever find self-motivation as an adult? I learned self-motivation in school, and my only reward was a good GPA. It's important to be able to motivate yourself to do something just because it will help you in the long run, not because it will give you instant gratification.

    As far as stickers and stuff for kids -- I think that's fine, and is especially nice for the younger grades. But I think a good complement is better.
     
  39. Ms. I

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    Yes, all these kids who are motivated by material, especially expensive or extravagent things will be in for a rude awakening as they get older. If they don't graduate from high school becuase no one pays them anymore, then they'll of course never get a job that does actually pay them for doing work. Then, so be it, it's sad, but their own problem nevertheless.
     
  40. MissFroggy

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    I don't use any rewards in my classroom, and generally feel against rewarding kids. (I don't even do stickers or marbles, card pulling or anything.) We want to develop intrinsic motivation in the children, so they will learn for the sake of learning.... but a lot of people treat school as a child's "job" and therefore pay them for a job well done. In reality this is how the world works. I think Disney Land is out of proportion, but really, if a child gets a small allowance for special household chores, and a small amount of money for each A, I think it's not going to harm in the long run, provided they don't expect money for every little thing they do and will do jobs and things without pay... I mean, they should still have a sense of charity. A good parent can do both.
     
  41. smalltowngal

    smalltowngal Multitudinous

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    Nov 10, 2007

    Our local news station just did a report on this the other night. They interviewed a family that does not give out rewards. In this family of mom,dad, and 3 siblings, the parents do not argue in front of the children. The children are expected to do chores around the house. They get an allowance for this; however, if they don't do a chore and someone else has to do it for them, they have to give up some of their allowance to the person that did their chore for them. It's teaching them real world!!
     

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