In a recent conversation with my 17-year-old daughter, she mentioned that she thinks it is wrong to pay children for good grades. So should we incentivize our children to make good grades? One would think that paying children for good grades would motivate them, but does it actually encourage them to perform well? According to Daniel Pink, author of Drive, if a child is encouraged “to learn math by paying her for each workbook she completes…..she’ll almost certainly become more diligent in the short-term and lose interest in math in the long-term.”
Does paying a child for good grades encourage the child to select the easiest courses to get the reward? Many high school students have the option of taking standard, honors or advanced placement (AP) classes, so we can assume that it’s easier to get an A with the standard course, as opposed to the more difficult honors or AP classes. Many high schools are weighting the GPAs for college entrance; however, many colleges are not considering the weighted grades. So should we encourage our children to take the least challenging courses to get a higher GPA? As it gets more and more competitive for students to get accepted by their first choice college, it certainly would be tempting to encourage our children to just get the best grade possible, since they aren’t rewarded for taking the harder courses. But do we really want future employees who take the easiest route to success? Isn’t education more about learning?
As for my competitive daughter, I’m proud of her for taking the honor and AP courses and I don’t even have to pay for the A’s. As she said to me, “I want to do well because I want to accomplish my goals and learn something”. Let’s just hope that the college admission boards appreciate all of her effort.