As a teacher and a mother, I am drawn to the on going debate: Do we pay for good grades? It is a controversial topic that has been the source of a lot of dinner debates, as well as, many classrooms and parent workshops.
I guess you can justify the benefit to paying for grades. In a sense, school for children is a job and grades in essence are the product for that job. We get a pay check for our work, why not get paid for doing well at school? Many say its a motivator and add more drive to complete work.
Am I fan of paying for grades. ABSOLUTELY NOT! Here are the reasons why you shouldn’t pay for grades.
Teaching kids the value in their own hard work.
You don’t need to pay for grades. The grade in itself is its own reward. If a student put the time in and met expectations for the course, then the reward is the grade. Getting paid for the grade means they are getting paid twice for the same work. It doesn’t make sense.
Teaching kids internal responsibility and accountability
Children need to know hard work. They do this when they become responsible and accountable in each subject. They will not learn what is necessary to be successful if what is driving them is a cash reward. They will only learn to take responsibility because of a monetary reward. They are in essence being bribed for their work. It does not make sense to me to bribe someone to preform. If they don’t learn to internalize responsible and accountable behaviors, they will not succeed when it really matters. Will you pay for their grades in college too? How about when they are going through career training?
Grade paying can cause stress and may drive students to make poor choices
As a teacher, I see everyday the pressure that students place on themselves trying to live up to parent expectations. Parents that pay for grades are usually the ones that punish severely for bad grades too. Here is the thing: if they haven’t learned in the value of their own hard work or learned to take responsibility and accountability for their role as a student, they will become desperate and do whatever is necessary to get the good grade. I have seen too many kids, even high achieving kids crack under the pressure. With this much pressure and so much riding on their grades, the temptations to cheat or plagiarize becomes too great. It is not fair and not right.
Teaching children natural consequences of not working to their potential
Many parents forget that learning life lessons can sometimes be hard, both for the parent and for the child. The hardest things for a parent is to let our child fail. Unfortunately, failing might be what needs to happen for a student to get it. Life with some mistakes makes for a better more fulfilling life as long as they learn from their mistakes. The important thing for parents is to provide the tools to help them learn, to sometimes help them make good time management choices but at the end of the day the learning is up to them. I remember telling my son, you need to pass English to move on to the next grade. We made contracts, strategy sessions, extra help and some prompting on good time management techniques. At the end of the day, he passed English, but it was during the summer when all his friends were at the beach and he was sitting in a classroom. It stunk, but he learned more about himself the summer between his 8th and 9th grade year than he did the entire school year. That was more valuable to me than the money that might have got him to pass at the moment.
Teaching kids the value of learning on its own merits
Finally, the most important thing we can teach our children, is to be intrinsic learners. Paying kids for grades does not teach them the value of learning. It only teaches them the value of earning money. Is that the lesson you want to teach? I would rather my son learn about the Egyptians and take pride in his hieroglyphic project instead of value in the $5 or $10 he earned because he got an “A.” There is no value in that. It makes the process of learning jaded and inconsequential.
Bottom line is that many people in this world would give anything to be where you child is at right now–in a school. We never have to worry about whether we can afford to send our children to school. Regardless of ability all students or financial situation of parents, all children are entitled to a Free Appropriate Public Education. This is the right of every child in America. Why take away the privilege and value of education by paying for a grade? Teach them instead to understand the importance of education and the value of hard work.