Should We Bribe Kids To Learn?


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If spanking is bad, what about bribery? Should parents bribe kids to learn? Is it wrong to reward kids for doing well in school if they're supposed to do it in the first place for "the love of learning"?

Someone finally did the experiment:

To find out, a Harvard economist named Roland Fryer Jr. did something education researchers almost never do: he ran a randomized experiment in hundreds of classrooms in multiple cities. He used mostly private money to pay 18,000 kids a total of $6.3 million and brought in a team of researchers to help him analyze the effects. He got death threats, but he carried on. The results, which he shared exclusively with TIME, represent the largest study of financial incentives in the classroom — and one of the more rigorous studies ever on anything in education policy. [...]

In the last city, something remarkable happened. Kids who got paid all year under a very elegant scheme performed significantly better on their standardized reading tests at the end of the year. Statistically speaking, it was as if those kids had spent three extra months in school, compared with their peers who did not get paid.

"These are substantial effects, as large as many other interventions that people have thought to be successful," says Brian Jacob, a University of Michigan public-policy and economics professor who has studied incentives and who reviewed Fryer's study at TIME's request. If incentives are designed wisely, it appears, payments can indeed boost kids' performance as much as or more than many other reforms you've heard about before — and for a fraction of the cost.

TIME Magazine has the exclusive story: Link


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@Tempscire "you couldn't have just told them "no"?"

Lol, I tried that. But then they always figured I was just shy or something and would provide extra attention to get me to go along with it. Saying no just made it worse. Dumbing it down showed there were repercussions for giving me attention. I think it made teachers think "Ok, nothing's really broke here so we shouldn't try to fix it."

I probably had some sort of issues. But really just wanted to be left alone in school.
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You guys should really read the whole article before commenting :). One of the things they discovered was that rewarding for grades alone wasn't especially effective. Grading has a subjective component (the teacher's) and the results are not entirely under the control of the student.

Rewarding for behaviors that students could directly control (being on time, wearing uniforms, reading books) did, however, increase objective test scores. Also, rewarding smaller amounts more frequently ($2/book, delivered immediately upon completing a quiz about the book) was more effective than larger but less frequent payments.

Also note, as TA mentioned, these experimental programs took place in schools/areas where kids were doing the worst academically. These programs were funded "from the outside." Parents didn't pony up the dough. The school administrators did. The article mentions parents who were suddenly more interested in their child's education because they had both a monetary incentive and a frequent, direct indication of how their child was doing in school, based on if the check amount went up or down. Now you have parents who are involved, even tangentially, in their child's education which is never a bad thing.
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its not rocket science, every one`s (even kids) 1st thought is whats init 4 me, when they mature a little they realise, education is what is init 4 them
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I wish I had gotten paid for my good grades. "Unfortunately," my usual report card from an early age was already straight As, so that was just the expected norm. [Really not bragging, honest.] I also felt a little envious of those kids whose parents paid them for every book they finished, but again, one way my parents punished was by taking away books, so...:)

@Splint Chesthair, you couldn't have just told them "no"? :)
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I read the article, and they are not talking about paying all kids -- they are talking about trying to affect change in the lowest schools, where kids are doing the worst. That said, they got their best results when they paid out THE LEAST to the YOUNGEST kids. When they paid second grade kids $2 per book to read, the kids scored better on their reading tests at the end of the year. Sometimes, they paid the older kids up to $500 and did not get great results. Paying kids does not equal good results.
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