I agree that punishment and threats of children is not going to improve things. As a result of using these poor ways of dealing with problems that teachers and parents will do more harm then good. When students use bad behaviors teachers should use modification programs to change the behavior. When rewards are given just to change the behavior the results will be short and the behavior worse.
Where rewards can be seen as a positive booster rather than punishment, I believe neither are benefits to a classroom. Punishment just agitates the student and completely turns them off from you and learning. Rewards are just bribes that make the student give the teacher an answer that they want to hear. The student isn't going to care how or why the answer is what it is, they know that if they raise their hand and participate they're going to get that piece of candy (or any other type of reward). I like how the article mentioned that giving the students choices of what and how they learn can improve the behavior and management of the classroom. By giving them those options, it automatically involves them in learning and gets them interested to pick things they will actually care about. If you're a good teacher, you wont need to use punishment techniques; the kids will be intrigued and like the environment you provide. That was like in the first article we had read about the teacher who had no names on the board for misbehaving. When providing students with praise and reward for every little good behavior, make the student grow up with the need for constant approval. They may feel they are not doing a good job or the right thing, if they are not receiving that constant "good job!", "here's your reward". This is why rewards (and punishments) are not good ways to build children's character or ways of learning.
Looking at my own experiences, when I was offered a reward by my teacher or even by my parents for anything, I never really cared about doing the task well. The only thing that was important was receiving the reward, so I can totally understand what the author is talking about here. This scares me because just listening to many other students in the teaching program speak about their observations, many of them mention (especially in the lower grades) that their teachers offer a rewards program. Ones I have heard are stickers or homework passes or even pizza at the end of a unit. Students should not be given these rewards as they do not encourage students to enjoy learning, nor do they help show the students that the work they are doing is the important part not the actual reward. I do like the idea of giving students options within the classroom, lesson structure assignments etc which will help keep the students occupied and interested because they feel like they actually have a say in what they are doing. Both punishments and rewards do not encourage thinking and a hunger to learn, so I understand how they are the same side of the coin. However, I would be cautious linking them together too much because yes they may both have a negative effect on a students learning, punishment leaves a much greater and longer lasting effect.
I respectfully disagree with this article. Rewards and punishments do work if they are used correctly. The problem with rewards and punishments is they are handed out to frequently. A child that is punished to often sees no way to avoid punishment and acts badly despite being punished. A child who is given rewards to often will seek out a reward for everything he does. I agree with that premise, but I believe used sparingly both tools can be effective. You need to teach children that there are consequences to their actions both good and bad, but you also need to help them understand why you are rewarding or punishing them. A child may not understand what they did right are wrong so we need to help them understand what they did so they can improve their behavior. Instead of rewards and punishment you need positive and negative reinforcement, which has been shown to work thousands of times.
I don't think that punishment is an effective technique to alter future behavior. I just don't think kids care enough about getting in trouble to not do it again. I grew up never having been punished whereas a lot of my friends did. Whenever I did something wrong my parents gave me a talk about it and explained why I shouldn't do it, but never took away any of my personal belongings or forbade me from going out on the weekends. Other parents didn't understand my parents, but I will tell you that the talks were more than enough. I would feel bad letting down my parents whereas my other friends who were punished continued whatever bad behavior and were just pissed that they got caught.
On the other hand, whenever I did something really good, I was usually rewarded with a gift of some sort. I didn't continue doing good deeds to get presents, but the thought always crossed my mind. Along the same lines, my nephew is almost 3-years-old and he was just potty trained. When he was starting to learn, whenever he went into the bathroom to do his business, he would be given chocolate or a small gift (like a Cars figure). Then, every time he went to the bathroom he would run out and say, "I did it! Do I get a present?" While rewarding him was supposed to be used as showing him he did something really great, he instead just took it as, "I'll get a present if I do this."
I don't think rewards work well in the classroom either. If they are doing their work and getting good grades, isn't that a good enough reward? Why should something else be given? I agree that I don't think kids will perform as well at a task if they know they will be rewarded in the end. They just think about getting the task done successfully without putting as much effort or creativity into it.
Punishments and rewards don't allow for inquiry and expression. Kids need to be given choices about what they're learning in order to be excited about learning. This line from the article sums it up perfectly, "Do rewards motivate students?", the answer is, "Absolutely: they motivate students to get rewards."
I believe that students need incentives and motivation in order for them to do their work. I had the opportunity to teach my first lesson. I reviewed organelles in a living environment class. After I gave the notes, I made up posters with the different organelles and posted them in the back. The teacher and I both agreed that we should give the students 5 extra points on the next exam if they are able to describe and explain each organelle without using their notes. Before we introduced the idea of having the students get points on their next test, they did not want to do the "game."
I agree with the article to a certain extent because students are appreciate when they are given awards and praises. Talking to a math teacher at the Westbury High School, she likes to write the student's name on a star and put in the back for the students. She does this if the student gets the highest grade on the test and if the student progresses. She has seen that the students take pictures of the board with their stars to take them home to show their parents.
Dr. Smith is the Principal of Mineola High School in Garden City Park, NY. He is also an Adjunct Professor in the Ruth Ammon School of Education at Adelphi University.