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Should Kids Be Bribed To Do Well In School?

timothy posted more than 4 years ago | from the hey-kid-look-at-this-shiny-future dept.

Education 706

theodp writes "Harvard economist Roland Fryer Jr. did something education researchers almost never do: he ran a randomized experiment in hundreds of classrooms in Chicago, Dallas, Washington, and New York to help answer a controversial question: Should Kids Be Bribed to Do Well in School? 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. His findings? 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."

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706 comments

a better question (1, Interesting)

Michael Kristopeit (1751814) | more than 4 years ago | (#31801434)

should these questions be left to be answered and executed in private by the parents of kids?

yes.

Re:a better question (5, Interesting)

JoeInnes (1025257) | more than 4 years ago | (#31801446)

An even better question: who the hell sent this guy death threats?!

Re:a better question (3, Funny)

anagama (611277) | more than 4 years ago | (#31801554)

Jocks.

Re:a better question (1, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#31801448)

Why do you hate Science?

Have you stopped hating Freedom yet?

Re:a better question (0, Flamebait)

Michael Kristopeit (1751814) | more than 4 years ago | (#31801478)

i know many parents that believe that education isn't something you do because you are being paid. i also know many parents that pay their children to do everything.

how is letting them both do what they feel is best for their children in any way hating science? how is promoting the freedom of parents in any way hating freedom?

you are retarded.

Re:a better question (1)

WrongSizeGlass (838941) | more than 4 years ago | (#31801546)

I agree that this should be something that parents should/could handle, but not all families do (or even can). The best way for parents to be involved in this decision is to voice their opinions about it (pro or con) at their local school board meetings.

Families that are 'better off' than others would still probably see an improvement in their children's performance because there is a big difference between "having money" and "earning money". The latter has a very different feel and has the potential of being a strong motivation.

Re:a better question (0, Troll)

Michael Kristopeit (1751814) | more than 4 years ago | (#31801590)

if their parents aren't expected to be capable of motivating their children, then why should society be expected to be capable of doing it?

i don't want to pay children to do what they are expected to do, when they aren't penalized in the same form for not doing it.

Re:a better question (3, Insightful)

icebraining (1313345) | more than 4 years ago | (#31801690)

It's a job; you get paid if you accomplish what you're told to do. You don't get grounded if you fail to perform, you just stop getting money.

Re:a better question (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#31801740)

It's not a job. The kid does not produce anything.

Re:a better question (2, Insightful)

BradleyUffner (103496) | more than 4 years ago | (#31801482)

So the children of rich parents should do better in school than those of poor parents? Purely because they have more money?

I'm not advocating one way or another, but it's the first question that popped in to my mind when I read your post.

Re:a better question (-1)

Michael Kristopeit (1751814) | more than 4 years ago | (#31801536)

"Purely"... so you've bought into this plan so much that you think that it's the only way to get someone to work up to their potential?

i understand the economics of it, and that it's cheaper than other programs... but then the students aren't getting the other programs. they are getting LESS of an education, even if they can convince the standardized testers that it's been more effective.

as a taxpayer, i don't think it's fair that i'm already paying for your child's education, and now i must also pay to motivate them to receive it. the burden of motivation should land completely on the parents.

Re:a better question (4, Insightful)

BradleyUffner (103496) | more than 4 years ago | (#31801596)

Our current education system is failing. Its very evident by looking at any national ranking charts that compare countries. We need to do something before things crash. And believe me, when it crashes it will affect YOU. Crime, the economy, poverty, health care. What wouldn't be fair would be you reaping the benefits of education without paying for it. Public education (yes, even the crappy system we have now) helps EVERYONE, those without children, those with children in private school, the elderly who's children have already finished school, EVERYONE.

Re:a better question (1, Interesting)

Michael Kristopeit (1751814) | more than 4 years ago | (#31801682)

maybe it's failing because of ignorant programs like this one that place the value of a dollar above all else.

Re:a better question (1)

Xaositecte (897197) | more than 4 years ago | (#31801688)

With the internet, the amount of information publically available is amazing. If we could find a way to convince kids to educate themselves, it would do more good than most of the educational programs I've ever been a part of.

Re:a better question (4, Informative)

Mikkeles (698461) | more than 4 years ago | (#31801756)

'as a taxpayer, i don't think it's fair that i'm already paying for your child's education,...'

You're not; you are paying back the cost of your education. That is being invested in the education of the current students, who will, in turn, pay it back.

Re:a better question (4, Insightful)

DreamsAreOkToo (1414963) | more than 4 years ago | (#31801526)

While I generally feel the government shouldn't be in charge of raising our kids, they ARE in charge of educating them (if your kids go to public school).

Also, unlike so many other government programs and tax breaks, this actually helps out poor families more than rich families. If little Delray can make money by studying, he's less likely to go "hang" with a bad crowd and steal money. He even has a chance to help provide himself with a better life now AND later.

Re:a better question (1)

Michael Kristopeit (1751814) | more than 4 years ago | (#31801664)

so little Delray is going to make more money from this program than he can make "hanging" with a bad crowd and stealing...

do you understand how much money can be made stealing, or the more lucrative drug dealing? society is expected to make a better offer? i'd rather take my chances and see how close little Delray gets to anything i own.

teaching children that work ethic is not simply about pride is going to be a disaster for all of their future employers now AND later.

Pfft. What education. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#31801762)

You call what the government does "education"?

Our public schools were originally created in order to have an educated electorate: reading, writing, arithmetic, civics, etc..

Then over time, the goal of having an educated electorate turned into having an educated workforce.

Our public schools have turned into a worker bee factory. Is it any wonder why the private school kids are the ones that by a a much greater proportion go to the Ivy League schools to become our overlords? If yo graduate from a top school, you have a much much much better chance of getting into a leadership position - especially Government. When was the last time we had a public school educated and public university President?

Why Not? (5, Insightful)

WrongSizeGlass (838941) | more than 4 years ago | (#31801440)

It's how we motivate adults at work so why not kids in school?

If it turns out to be a better use of resources and we turn out students who do better in school then it can't be all bad.

Re:Why Not? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#31801490)

It how raises and bonuses are decided in the adult world (meets or exceeds expectations). Why not let children know the way the world works sooner. The sooner they understand the way the world really is the better.
It seems if its good enough for adults there has to be a very strong reason why this is not good enough for children. In addition it is done with children, think of visits to a theme park for no absences from school etc.
Indeed is not sports based exactly on getting reward of winning if you succeed?

Re:Why Not? (1, Funny)

Michael Kristopeit (1751814) | more than 4 years ago | (#31801498)

It's how we motivate adults at work so why not kids in school?

because kids aren't adults, and school isn't optional work?

why do you think adults require motivation?

Re:Why Not? (4, Insightful)

khallow (566160) | more than 4 years ago | (#31801542)

because kids aren't adults, and school isn't optional work?

Absolutely. That's why kids don't need motivation for school work. They just do it as if by magic.

why do you think adults require motivation?

In my case, a cursory examination of human behavior has yielded a great deal of evidence to indicate that people need motivation or they don't do the work.

Re:Why Not? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#31801644)

why do you think adults require motivation?

In my case, a cursory examination of human behavior has yielded a great deal of evidence to indicate that people need motivation or they don't do the work.

Starvation isn't a sufficient motivator?

Re:Why Not? (4, Insightful)

roman_mir (125474) | more than 4 years ago | (#31801552)

Kids. Kids didn't ask their parents to be born. Their parents didn't ask the kids: do you want to be born and go through this? None of that happened. Kids are forced to be born, forced to do whatever the grownups tell them, forced to learn all of this nonsense, forced to become 'productive members of society' and by the society they are often forced to have their own offspring just so that there will be the next generation of 'productive members of society' ready to pay for the mistakes of the former ones.

Sure kids need motivation to go to school. There has to be some motivation and if all other motivations fail, money just may be the last resort.

Part of me wants to agree with you, but... (1)

IANAAC (692242) | more than 4 years ago | (#31801592)

because kids aren't adults, and school isn't optional work?

why do you think adults require motivation?

As adults we're motivated by money at every turn.

That said, it would be nice to be able to teach our kids that pure work ethics will do the job and give them their just compensation. It rarely works out that way though, unfortunately.

It would be even better for these people to find out why kids aren't doing well in the first place. It usually comes down to boredom or just plain horrible teachers.

Some of the worst teachers I've ever come across in my life were at the college level. There were some truly good teachers too, but they stand out only because they worked alongside awful teachers.

Re:Part of me wants to agree with you, but... (1, Insightful)

martin-boundary (547041) | more than 4 years ago | (#31801660)

As adults we're motivated by money at every turn.

Well I don't get up every morning and say

"Right, unless somebody's going to pay me, I'm not having breakfast!"

Do you?

Re:Why Not? (1)

blackraven14250 (902843) | more than 4 years ago | (#31801642)

because kids aren't adults, and school isn't optional work?

Getting straight A's and B's has always been optional. C's are a passing grade; why do any better if you don't have any real motivation to?

why do you think adults require motivation?

Adults get rewarded for doing shitty work, whether that entails learning a new programming language in a week or going out into the Sahara desert and digging for fossils for months on end. Either way, they get rewarded for doing something and meeting expectations, why not get kids accustomed to doing exactly what they'll be doing as adults, rather than forcing them to do something? I'm considering this for most kids not having parents that are there all the time to be proud of them and give them any emotional reinforcement for doing well, and thus don't get anything for getting an "A" other than a different shape of ink than the kid who got a "C".

Re:Why Not? (3, Insightful)

anagama (611277) | more than 4 years ago | (#31801648)

Adults have all kinds of motivation to work. Being hungry, cold, rained on -- these are pretty strong motivators (not for all people, but for most, they're powerful).

Kids generally have food and a place to live without worrying about it -- they expect it. Kids also generally have a pretty short term outlook. Remember when you felt like summer vacation would last forever or the school year would never end? At 14, it's hard to think realistically about what one's life will be like at 35. So you give short term motivators to kids, they do well, and life at 35 is all that much easier because somewhere along the way, they picked up long-term thinking skills without being hampered by blowing off homework and playing video games.

However, as an intentionally child-free taxpayer, I really do hate paying for other people's sprogs.

Re:Why Not? (1)

rolfwind (528248) | more than 4 years ago | (#31801734)

Well, you can't motivate everyone with money. Some people get motivated by different things, which money may or may not buy. Richer kids will have less motivation. There is also the unmotivable, those people who you just aren't able to be motivate.

I can't make a good argument against monetary rewards, it's a direct lesson on the value of a dollar. And honestly, compared throughout history, we do ask a lot of our children. Maybe not physically, but at least on a farm, kids were able to tire themselves out with the activity. Young humans aren't tailor made to go through factory life of a school day-in and day-out happily without some breaks. It's still an unnatural environment in that sense.

So my biggest concern is that we throw money at a problem without striving to fix said problem in perhaps better ways or make it more comfortable. One example which would be that high school which decided to open at 10AM and had attendance rise and delinquency fall. The teachers said that study after study showed that teenager were late risers, so why not cater to them? If they relied on a monetary solution, they would simply have demanded perfect attendance or some similiar metric, allowance or limit (say 1 failed day per quarter) and not only would you still have the same tired students, but as soon as anyone missed the threshhold, their entire motivation is gone simply because they can't reach the reward. OTOH, the redesigned school day benefits everyone anytime they go to school, no matter their previous attendance.

No (3, Insightful)

koan (80826) | more than 4 years ago | (#31801442)

What does that teach them? Don't do anything regardless of what it is unless you're "bribed".
That said I know I will get flamed for saying that, but I think it instills an attitude of don't anything unless you get paid, loses touch with what education is and should be.

Re:No (1)

pspahn (1175617) | more than 4 years ago | (#31801474)

I agree. It does create some kind entitlement, something kids are already filled with, especially the ones who don't do well in school.

If kids are bribed, it should be with good grades. I often told my students that they had a job just like I did. The only difference was that I got paid with money (not that much) and they got paid with a report card.

Re:No (1)

courseofhumanevents (1168415) | more than 4 years ago | (#31801556)

My teacher used to say that. I'd always ask him how many report cards I'd need to buy a car.

Re:No (3, Insightful)

masmullin (1479239) | more than 4 years ago | (#31801668)

At least 11 successful final report cards. 10 final report cards and you'll always be leasing the car, 9 or less and you wont be able to lease one. 15 successful final report cards and you can afford a house + car. 18+ final report cards and you'll get a very nice house a bmw and people call you Dr.

Re:No (2, Insightful)

masmullin (1479239) | more than 4 years ago | (#31801638)

WTF are you talking about? It doesn't create any kind of entitlement. it teaches them that if they want something (like money) they work (study) for it.

It's not like we give them the money if they fail! If anything it teaches the reverse of entitlement.

Re:No (0)

anagama (611277) | more than 4 years ago | (#31801672)

The problem with that is that grades are incredibly abstract. Explaining to 14yo that grades affect college choices and thus earning potential is simply not going to make sense to that 14yo till he's 30. So you adopt a solution tailored to the short-term thinking potential of young kids so they don't shoot themselves in the foot.

Re:No (5, Insightful)

Kr3m3Puff (413047) | more than 4 years ago | (#31801500)

It teaches them the way the real world works. Do adults do their jobs because "they are supposed to" or "out of the kindness of their own hearts." The real world pays you for the work you perform, why preclude children from that, just because we can.

If it works and it is more cost effective then other types of reform, then more power to them.

Re:No (4, Informative)

schon (31600) | more than 4 years ago | (#31801712)

Do adults do their jobs because "they are supposed to" or "out of the kindness of their own hearts."

I do my job because I love it.

I've been offered more money (sometimes *much* more) to do something else. Each time, I turned it down.

Re:No (4, Insightful)

Karganeth (1017580) | more than 4 years ago | (#31801516)

Not bribed, PAID. Being paid is the only reason most adults do anything hard. It doesn't fucking matter if it "loses touch with what education should be" - all that matters is RESULTS. If it improves the children's grades more than other incentives of the same costs, it should be done.

Re:No (1, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#31801520)

It's a lot easier for a rich kid to be motivated to do well because he knows he's gonna be able to go on that jetski trip or get that new Ipad as a reward for doing well in school. The concept would allow poor kids to immediately see tangible results of their hard work, instead of struggling in squalor for up to 12 years(if they don't say "fuck it" and become drug dealers instead). That the rich may become richer is no concern to the kid who's just glad to have a netbook or enough money to buy a clunker car.

As an older college student, I know that not everybody has the luxury of being able to learn for fun.

-- Ethanol-fueled

 

Re:No (1, Insightful)

MrMista_B (891430) | more than 4 years ago | (#31801522)

Do you get bribed to go to work?

For most kids, education is pain, and toil, frustration, anger, boredom, and tears.

Re:No (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#31801524)

What does that teach them? Don't do anything regardless of what it is unless you're "bribed".

Do you consider getting a paycheck from your job bribery? This seems like it would prepare kids for the way things work in the outside world. Do your "job", get paid.

Re:No (0)

migla (1099771) | more than 4 years ago | (#31801532)

Agreed. Also, learning should be its own reward. If you add external incentives to something that has its internal incentives, you run the risk of wiping out the internal reward.

Re:No (1)

migla (1099771) | more than 4 years ago | (#31801550)

I think I should have said "in other words" instead of "also"...

Re:No (1)

masmullin (1479239) | more than 4 years ago | (#31801578)

Obviously someone wasn't bribed enough during their formative years.

Re:No (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#31801636)

you run the risk of wiping out the internal reward.

Schools do a pretty good job of that already.

Re:No (1)

EL_mal0 (777947) | more than 4 years ago | (#31801676)

Undoing errant mod

Re:No (3, Insightful)

Scrameustache (459504) | more than 4 years ago | (#31801540)

What does that teach them?

The value of their work.

That said I know I will get flamed for saying that

Stop 'baiting.

but I think it instills an attitude of don't anything unless you get paid, loses touch with what education is

What education is? Factory-job preparedness training? Repeated lessons in submitting to authority? Day-prisons for teenagers?

I'm more worried that they'll get paid for grades and that learning things is not the best way to get good grades (obeying teacher is).

Re:No (1)

Chibinium (1596211) | more than 4 years ago | (#31801584)

Why would we pay them to do something which is for their own benefit? If they don't want it, then let them make that choice and suffer down the road. *Ninja whisper* ...Wait. What do you mean I'm going to bail them out?!

Re:No (1)

khallow (566160) | more than 4 years ago | (#31801594)

What does that teach them? Don't do anything regardless of what it is unless you're "bribed".

Sure. That's a pretty good life lesson. Employers, associates, friends, etc will sometimes use you up and spit you out, playing on your guilt or other weaknesses in order to get more out of you. Understanding that you do things for a personal reason (be it a "bribe" or something else) helps protect you from this sort of exploitation.

That said I know I will get flamed for saying that, but I think it instills an attitude of don't anything unless you get paid, loses touch with what education is and should be.

Nonsense. It's a practical skill that could help you do better in your life.

Re:No (1)

roman_mir (125474) | more than 4 years ago | (#31801612)

Well, realize there has to be some motivation to go to school, nobody asked the kids before they were born: do you want to exist? Do you want to go to school? Do you want to have to work?

No, nobody asked anything, they forced the kids into this world, forced them to school, forced them to work, forced them to buy garbage they don't need, forced them into all kinds of things, sometimes forcing them into wars and to die also for causes that are beyond their own reasons.

Should people be always rewarded? If the learning in itself is not a big enough reward, then what is wrong with extra incentive? Nothing. If someone does not want to learn for the sake of learning, if someone does not want to know more for the sake of knowing more or even for some ephemeral future, which may come but also may not come in the expected shape based on any knowledge or education... Basically if they don't want to learn for any reason that you consider to be important, then there really is not much left but give direct incentive.

That, or you may hit them. You can hit them and yell at them and force them that way, just to avoid punishment. Do you think that would be more useful?

Re:No (1)

Davey McDave (926282) | more than 4 years ago | (#31801624)

What does our education system already teach them - as long as you're answering questions correctly, you're doing okay? It's easy to put decent solutions in unsavoury words.

I don't think "doing things well results in rewards" is that bad a lesson to teach kids, and I'm a teacher.

Re:No (1, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#31801656)

I think teaching that you will be paid for your efforts, or should be at least, is a lesson already taught by society except that kids have to hope that their payment comes in college grants/scholarships/etc....and the criteria for those is based on almost nebulous things such as "After school participation".

If kids could learn and bank up money to apply to college, they wouldn't be at the mercy of a board somewhere who decides if their grades are high enough, if their after school activities were suitable, and all the other criteria they judge on that never comes to light which I suspect "ability for parents to pay" is one.

There's nothing quite as frustrating to spend all your time in school, then go home and spend it on hours of homework and study... put tremendous amounts of effort into it and when college time rolls around you get no scholarships because you weren't one of the top 3 in your class. And your parents can't afford to pay for your tuition or books, and all the money you made working after school jobs and summer jobs went into a car so you could commute to and from the local college. While the kids whose parents paid for a brand new car, covered their kids insurance, and basically took all the extra stress of after school work and summer jobs that paid........and could pay for their college if they didn't get the scholarships either. I say what's wrong with kids earning money to put toward college or other educational efforts especially if it drives them to learn in the process?

The system as it is now just sucks.

Since everyone agrees that parents (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#31801444)

...are the biggest influence on a child's education, maybe we should bribe them.

The Problem (1)

markass530 (870112) | more than 4 years ago | (#31801450)

Who do you need to "bribe"? I never needed it, and it was offered, and I welcomed the cash ($2 per "A") but it never affected my performance in school. Obviously this can never work outside of a parents issued situation. But with attentive parents, this will, and has worked.

Hmm (1)

ShooterNeo (555040) | more than 4 years ago | (#31801452)

Can any economists comment? This actually makes a kind of sense. If you ask a kid to do some work (actually actively studying to rapidly learn IS work) you gotta pay em. Society would benefit quite a bit more than paying the kids would cost if the kids were to learn what they need to learn on a faster timescale. I'm positive that if the funding were there, kids of average intelligence could easily enter college at age 16 if they were to actually work hard at learning. I certainly was ready then.

No, They Should Be Beaten (0, Troll)

Greyfox (87712) | more than 4 years ago | (#31801534)

It's an all-natural drug-free solution to ADD that worked just fine for generations. Then these god damn pot smoking hippies come along and think they know better and we end up with a generation of tubby little fuckers with an attitude of entitlement. And what's that preparing them for? It isn't fucking rainbows and daisies out there, people! The world is a cold and uncaring place and if you don't work to secure your future you're going to end up being harvested for organs! By the Chinese! Not that the current crop is good for much else.

Re:No, They Should Be Beaten (1)

Z34107 (925136) | more than 4 years ago | (#31801726)

Well, I thought it was funny. I also don't carry most of my organs with me exactly for that reason.

Re:Hmm (1)

NEDHead (1651195) | more than 4 years ago | (#31801576)

Just to be clear, many bright high school students are capable of doing more advanced ('college level') work than they are offered in high school. Few of them are 'ready' to enter college. Indeed, judging by the stupid drunken behavior that occurs at most colleges, few high school graduates are 'ready' to be at college. That said, this payment program is just a variant of the "you get what you measure" phenomena that shows up in every walk of life, most famously in salesman compensation programs. If you reward the right behaviors then you are ahead of the game. Make a mistake in understanding what the right behavior is... Regarding the reported death threats - try suggesting a free market voucher system for public schools. Mayhem ensues!!

next use it on teen girls (4, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#31801454)

pay them not to get pregnant! pit greed vs. breed.

Re:next use it on teen girls (1)

Totenglocke (1291680) | more than 4 years ago | (#31801730)

Except many of them know that they can get pregnant and then hop on welfare and get a free ride - so we'd have to pay them even more to not get pregnant than welfare pays them TO get pregnant.

Re:next use it on teen girls (1)

phantomfive (622387) | more than 4 years ago | (#31801746)

Won't work, the sex/emotional drive is more powerful than the greed drive. In fact, if you look at all the ways we have to motivate people, money is actually one of the weakest ones. People will die for love, they will die for honor, they will die for different causes, but no one is willing to die for money. Risk death, yes, but give up their lives, no.

A Case Study Of Myself (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#31801456)

Let's see, back in my day I'd usually just end up getting sent to detention for whatever reason. No bullies to piss me off, no idiots yacking about stoopid shit, but no $10 for the associated improved grade.

I like this guys idea better. Now if only they would hand kids duct tape so they shut the yappy ones up.

My parents always said (1, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#31801462)

They didn't have to pay us to be good, we were good for nothing.

They already are (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#31801466)

Today, they are bribed with the promise of a brighter future - better paying jobs, lower divorce rates, lower unemployment rates, etc. It works for some, but not all.

Americans..... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#31801480)

Revolting.. Teaching to kids from young age all is nothing worth unless it's money.

I guess next step will be outsourcing going to school to some indian company, so that kids will be able to spend more time at the mall?

A few sides to this. (3, Insightful)

kurokame (1764228) | more than 4 years ago | (#31801484)

I can see two main arguments for this and one against.

(+) "If it works, then why not?"
(+) "It's capitalism, comrade!"
(-) "But it's against our ideals, people should learn for the sake of learning!"

Frankly, I'm up for anything which improves the effectiveness of our education system at this point as long as it doesn't constitute an outright human rights violation. The system is broken. If you can prove that X provides significant gains, then we should at least look into it.

/Obligatory (5, Funny)

The Wild Norseman (1404891) | more than 4 years ago | (#31801488)

In Soviet Russia, bribes school YOU!

*ducks and runs from thread*

kids aren't adults (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#31801492)

The problem is that psychologists do not think this type of motivation is healthy for young minds. Adult minds are wired differently. Moreover, the work that adults do is designed to profit a company or organization in some way, the work children do in school is supposed to benefit them.

I dont know if the program is good or bad, but letting the parents decide will obviously result in the program being implemented. This is one situation where they should leave it up to the school system to decide based on more extensive testing.

Re:kids aren't adults (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#31801714)

If one took a behaviorist viewpoint on this, it will be creating a society of mindlessness that will do anything for a $$$. If your the one with the $$$s then great.

I suppose we have already seen it, look at what lawyers will do for money. Do you want your kids to be lawyers?

Pardon the irony

Re:kids aren't adults (2, Funny)

masmullin (1479239) | more than 4 years ago | (#31801718)

Psychological studies have shown that the field of psychology is full of shit.

It does work, but you have to keep paying them. (1, Insightful)

Animats (122034) | more than 4 years ago | (#31801506)

The experiments so far indicate that paying students for results improves only the results paid for. Pay for attendance, you get attendance. Pay for grades on quizzes, you get grades on quizzes. End of year scores don't improve much, if at all. And when the money stops, so does the improvement.

That's useful info.

Re:It does work, but you have to keep paying them. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#31801566)

When I stop getting paid to go to work, I stop going to work too.

 

Re:It does work, but you have to keep paying them. (4, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#31801598)

The experiments so far indicate that paying students for results improves only the results paid for. Pay for attendance, you get attendance. Pay for grades on quizzes, you get grades on quizzes. End of year scores don't improve much, if at all. And when the money stops, so does the improvement.

You might want to read the article. It states quite clearly that paying kids for books read increased standardized test scores on reading and that these were long term gains

Yes, adopt the most effective incentives (1, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#31801508)

The question shows a bias. Of course, we need to pursue the most effective and efficient methods to reach a goal, even if they're counter-intuitive.

For instance, San Francisco has found that anyone who believes in cost cutting should support paying homeless people to live in an apartment. Opponents may unjustifiably paint giving apartments to people who don't "earn" them as immoral--or even justifiably worry about providing an incentive to stay on public assistance. However, evidence has shown that when the homeless are given their own apartments rather than forcing them to live in homeless shelters, they don't run up six-digit emergency room bills.

Similarly, we should encourage and pursue whatever encourages young people to do well in school, whether social norms, peer pressure, or cash. Otherwise, our friends in Europe, Japan, South Korea, China, and the rest of the Developed or Developing world will soon pass us by.

Suspected pedobear? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#31801512)

The death threats were probably because of parents suspecting him of pedophilic behaviour :-)

Some seem to believe kids should not have money (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#31801528)

Some seem to believe that kids just do not need or deserve any money for anything, and will go out of their way to deny it.

"Bribe"... (5, Insightful)

Schraegstrichpunkt (931443) | more than 4 years ago | (#31801538)

You keep using that word. I do not think it means what you think it means.

Death Threats? (2)

lemur3 (997863) | more than 4 years ago | (#31801558)

What in the hell is wrong with this world when people get death threats over an issue like this?

death threats REALLY?!

*shakes his head*

Re:Death Threats? (3, Funny)

petes_PoV (912422) | more than 4 years ago | (#31801618)

Maybe the threats were from the teachers who felt it was THEM who should've been bribed to teach better

Behaviorism run amok (5, Interesting)

dbc (135354) | more than 4 years ago | (#31801568)

Blatantly behaviorist. Extrinsic motivators are easily extinguished. We need to find and nurture intrinsic motivators. Unfortunately, this is hard, and the educational establishment is looking for easy solutions. Go read "Punished by Rewards" by Alphie Kohn

Re:Behaviorism run amok (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#31801678)

Go read "Punished by Rewards" by Alphie Kohn

Why?

Re:Behaviorism run amok (3, Funny)

masmullin (1479239) | more than 4 years ago | (#31801742)

I'll only read that book if you pay me.

Yes (4, Interesting)

ErichTheRed (39327) | more than 4 years ago | (#31801588)

If done right, this might not be a bad idea. The traditional education system in the US has changed a lot in the past 50+ years:

  • There are way more distractions than before, and those distractions have the capability to pretty much take over people's lives (WoW, social networking, tons more entertainment options.)
  • In many cases, there's a lack of or much less parental involvement. Sounds old-fashioned, but a lot of what pushed me to do well came from my parents. If your parents are divorced, you only have one, or they're too busy working, you get less attention.
  • Negative feedback isn't there anymore. Teachers can't discipline for fear of parents lashing back, social promotion means students can't fail, etc.
  • The old model of Good Education = Stable, Good Job doesn't always hold anymore.

Adding another carrot to the arsenal can't be too bad, given all the problems students face now.

This may well boost their performance as STUDENTS (1)

dmomo (256005) | more than 4 years ago | (#31801606)

It's up to the parent to decide whether or not these bribes actually add to the overall success of their child in the long run. It will take some convincing for me to think this is likely. If success means being a privileged snot or a poor loser, so be it. If success means happiness, self-worth, longevity or value to society.. Well, that's not as simple as choosing between a stick and a carrot.

Publishing Research in Newspapers? (1)

Velodra (1443121) | more than 4 years ago | (#31801614)

From the article:

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.

I was under the impression that research like this gets published in peer-reviewed journals, not in newspapers. Saying the study is rigorous and what the results are won't do you any good unless it's actually possible for others to verify those things.

Re:Publishing Research in Newspapers? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#31801702)

From the article:

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.

I was under the impression that research like this gets published in peer-reviewed journals, not in newspapers. Saying the study is rigorous and what the results are won't do you any good unless it's actually possible for others to verify those things.

I see that you have never tried to publish anything. A study like this is unpopular. The odds of publication go like this:

75% chance: Editor rejects article as "not suitable for this publication" without sending it to reviewers
10% chance: Reviewers find some mole-hills and make mountains out of them. Rejected with no re-submit.
14% chance: Reviewers find nothing wrong with study, but only give it slightly above average ratings. Journal has 90% rejection rate, so it doesn't make the cut.
1% chance: Paper gets published, but under the "editorial" (implying that it was not peer-reviewed) section because it is unpopular.

Good luck ever getting cited.

Re:Publishing Research in Newspapers? (1)

Solarch (1473575) | more than 4 years ago | (#31801736)

100% chance: It doesn't get published because it's not good science. No attempt at replication of results. --OR-- 100% chance: It doesn't get published because the author realizes that it's good enough for popular press (TIME) but won't stand up to the rigors of peer-review.

Re:Publishing Research in Newspapers? (2, Informative)

Solarch (1473575) | more than 4 years ago | (#31801708)

Disclosure: I am a teacher with science degrees (and no education degree, but some coursework and experience in science ed research). You are correct, and, what's more, the article lacks any sort of detailed methodology and statistical analysis. Something smells fishy here. In addition, it's bad science to think that because you did one experiment of randomized trials that you have some sort of real discovery. (Yes I did RTFA and know he had many test sites, but it's one experiment) The experiment is virtually useless and lacks any real, strong validity unless and until another experimenter can re-create the results.

Student grant in NL (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#31801626)

This [ib-groep.nl] existing system is something similar to paying students to study.

In the private sector (3, Interesting)

rossdee (243626) | more than 4 years ago | (#31801630)

Its called 'pay for performance'

(I think that bribe is not the correct term here.)

Ok, lets try that then (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#31801646)

Education is an investment that doesn't pay off for a decade or more, which is often longer than the people undergoing it have been alive to begin with.
In a world where even experienced adult investors and potentially immortal corporations can't be expected to make short term sacrifices for investments with a potential payoff that far in the future, is it really realistic to expect it of children?

Pay them off now to get them interested, and collect the money back in increased tax revenues when they're better educated and better paid adults.

bribe? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#31801650)

Interesting choice of word, "bribe", to make it sound like something unsavory or illegal. Paying kids to do well in school would dramatically increase the intelligence of our nation, but alas that's something those in power definitely do not want. They want everyone to be dumb sheep.

Scholarships... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#31801658)

My final semester of grad school saw the only 4.0 of my entire educational career. The final score: 3.8 in grad school, 3.6 for courses in my undergrad major, 2.6 overall undergrad, and 3.1 in high school.

Why such a kick-ass finish in grad school? Well, for the latter part of my grad-school career, I was a teacher. In my school district, having an MS was an automatic ~$1000 pay raise, which gave me a nice salary boost, and literally made the payments on my student loan.

Of course, it could also have been the inverse: I was paying $700 tuition per class, and I wanted to make the most of it. All through college, I went to practically every single class meeting: I felt that I was paying tuition to go to class, not to sleep through class, yank lecture notes off the Internet, and show up for exams.

More shite (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#31801662)

Does theodp know what bribery means?

No, he does not, the useless cunt.

Really? (1)

jim_v2000 (818799) | more than 4 years ago | (#31801680)

"He got death threats, but he carried on."

I mean, really? People got pissed because he gave money to kids and they did better? My first suspect is someone involved with teachers unions.

Experiment trumps theory. (2, Interesting)

Vellmont (569020) | more than 4 years ago | (#31801698)

The thing I love about this is someone actually did science in education. That's extremely cool. Normally education comes down to one person arguing with another with little to no evidence, and the whole things just winds up being an argument that's really about values, political opinions, or personal opinions, but purports to be about outcomes. "Thing Y won't work because thing Y is "bad" or "Thing X won't work because it conflicts with my religion and/or political viewpoint" or "Thing Z will work because I think it will". From a scientific viewpoint these could all be viewed as untested theories. That's not necessarily bad.. but continuing to argue about them and not doing the experiment is... well stupid.

Richard Feynman talked about this 25 some years ago in one of his books. IIRC his main point was how teaching is ruled by "method of the day" as if it's just fashion, but very rarely does anything bother to find out what actually works.

So, now we have a good reason to suspect that some form of rewards for learning actually do seem to work. That doesn't mean the values argument is invalid, but it certainly does show the values argument for what it is and not a hidden attempt to discredit the validity of the outcome.

Bribed? (1)

darjen (879890) | more than 4 years ago | (#31801724)

extremely poor choice in words. if my kids ever end up going to public school, I could see paying them for each A. I'm hoping they don't want to go to public school though...

What is a bribe? (4, Informative)

TrumpetPower! (190615) | more than 4 years ago | (#31801750)

The word, “bribe,” has two very different common meanings.

The first is a payment to somebody to do something illicit. It might or might not be something the person objects to doing, but it is something against the rules. A border agent might or might not think smoking pot is a good idea, but if you pay him to look the other way while you drive your “plant tissue samples” across the border, that’s a bribe.

The second, and the usage implied here, is a payment to somebody to do something they don’t want to do but which isn’t illicit. It’s especially applied to things that most people think the person should want to do without compensation but, for whatever reason, the person isn’t interested. If you offer to pay your spouse to fold the laundry, that’s often considered a bribe.

But, clearly, almost all paid work falls into the second category. While the work I do isn’t objectionable and pays well, there’s simply no way I’d do it unless you paid me (and paid me well). There are other things I’d rather do for money, but they don’t pay as well. And there are still other things I do and would do that either don’t pay or that I have to pay to do.

So, unless you think your boss is bribing you to go to work, or unless you’d happily give up your paycheck but still continue at your job, it is most hypocritical to call what’s described in this article a bribe. You might wish that students would put in maximum effort even if they don’t get a cash reward, but your boss wishes the exact same thing of you.

Whether or not paying students is an effective end economical method of turning them into honorable and effective citizens is a valid topic of discussion, but such payments are most emphatically not bribes.

Cheers,

b&

Death Threats? (1)

wisnoskij (1206448) | more than 4 years ago | (#31801754)

That seems a little excessive.

Motivation? Yes. Money? Nah. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#31801760)

Giving kids incentives to do well in school has been going on for a long time privately. Most kids I hung out with were given some sort of reward for doing well in school.
Money certainly motivates kids, yes. But it's not the best way to go about it.
For most of us, we were given privileges for doing well in school. TV, Video game time, being able to go outside and play with friends, special desserts, etc. Remember when those things were privileges instead of just assumed? If kids do poorly in school, take away their TV privilege. Detention? No candy or dessert for a week. Bad report card? Well, then they get to stay inside and study.
If parents would get off of their asses and do some real parenting, we wouldn't have these issues. If kids have things that they WANT to do, they should have to do the things that they HAVE to do, end of story.

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