Wednesday, July 2, 2014

Rewards interfere with moral and spiritual development and learning

Rewards interfere with moral and spiritual development, commitment to values and a love of learning.

When a teacher reminds a class of the ' worth ' of an assignment towards a grade – instead of 'worth in terms of its meaning ' or a parent asks a child what he ' got' on a paper – rather than what he got from the act of writing it , kids are taught they go to school to get grades and not to become long-life learners
When discipline is achieved by using rewards and consequences kids are not taught to reflect on how their behavior impacts on others and the community but ask what will I get or what will be done to me if I behave in a certain way. Also rewards are used in character education and promoting religious values.
If our goal is to teach them , that the reward of a good deed is the deed itself why give rewards ? Rewards might change behavior in the short-term, but this is without any change or an emotional commitment to the underlying value behind the behavior. 

.  A child promised a treat for learning or acting responsibly has been given every reason to stop doing so when there is no longer a reward to be gained. Children whose parents make frequent use of rewards tend to be less generous than their peers. . A school tried to encourage kids to return lost articles or money found in school or on the playground by rewarding them. All of a sudden , kids were finding so many coins on the playground. So we see how rewards promote immoral behavior.

Dan Ariely explains that when we use rewards we change social norms – pro-social reasons for behaving in a certain way and doing good deeds into economic norms. Not only is the reward presented to kids as the  desired object , but kids learn to convert social and spiritual norms into economic terms. We should be educating children to convert money and goods into spiritual deeds. We can use ' goodies' not as incentives but to give learning and pro-social activities an association of joy and happiness.

We should be helping kids to think in the following way.
A man who was about to go overseas for while approached his neighbor's  10 year old son. He asked him to look after his dog, take him for walks etc while he was away on holiday. 
He asked the kid  -   How much ? The kid -  I am willing to pay  $15

Instead of rewards, grades and competition, we can create an environment which focuses on making learning intrinsically valuable in the context of a caring family or community of learners by adopting the 4 Cs of intrinsic motivation – Community- Cooperative learning, Choice- autonomy ,Content- engaging curriculum and Competence. Here the reward for a good deed is the deed itself and how it contributes to the community. The reward for cooperative - learning is how it gives us more understanding, richness and meaning to our lives and those of our peers.

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