Do you pay for grades?

BlogHer Original Post

I remember once in my youth, I must have been about 11 or so, sitting on a schoolbus listening to two boys talking in the seat in front of me.  One of them was showing off a wad of cash.

"Thirty-three dollars, man," he said proudly.  "It's 'cause of the 2 A's and the 2 B's that I got.  My parents are so excited."

I couldn't contain myself.

"Your parents give you money for your grades?" I asked, interrupting them.

"Yup," he said, matter-of-factly.  "Ten dollars for A's, five dollars for B's, two dollars for C's and a dollar for D's.  So the better I do at school, the more money I get.  And I'm allowed to spend it on whatever I want."

To my adolescent ears, this sounded like a methodology of absolute brilliance.  I couldn't wait to get home and pitch the idea to my mother.

"He even gets money for D's, does he?" she asked wryly, as I was sitting on the kitchen counter after school.

"Yes, but he doesn't get any money if he fails a class.  Which, you know, fair enough," I explained reasonably.

"I should say so."

"So?" I asked expectantly.

"So what?"

"So, don't you think we should do that?"  I flashed her my most winningest smile.

"So, NO," she said flatly.

My smile vanished.

"That's SO not fair.  I don't get ANYTHING for my good grades!"

"You get to walk without a limp," my mother retorted dryly, returning to the dinner preparations.  And that was the last of that conversation.

Thirty years later, and now I'm a parent myself.  My daughter, Alex, just started kindergarten this year.  This is the first year that Alex will be receiving school grades of her own; as a result, I've been thinking a lot about those two boys on the bus, as well as my conversation with my mom, as I struggle with what my Official Position on Earning Good Grades will be.  On one hand, I do understand the argument that a child's job is attending school, and just as an adult is compensated monetarily for executing his job, so, perhaps, should a child, so he learns the value of hard work and money.  On the other hand, school isn't a job, and perhaps earning good grades should really be a lesson in the sense of satisfaction and self-esteem that comes with a job well done.  It's really quite complicated, when you think about it.

Ultimately, I suspect that I won't give Alex money for good grades; however, unlike my mom's ideology, Alex's reward for a good report card will likely be something more than two functioning legs.  I suspect if she does really well, my husband and I will surprise her with her favourite meal, or some sort of special familiy outing or celebration.  After all, I do believe that doing well in school should be honoured appropriately.

How about you:  will you give your kids money for good grades?  Or, in the alternative, will you simply refrain from parental violence?  Or, you know, something in between?

 

Karen is a writer and photographer in Houston, Texas.  You can read/see more of her work at Chookooloonks.

Comments

In order to comment on BlogHer.com, you'll need to be logged in. You'll be given the option to log in or create an account when you publish your comment. If you do not log in or create an account, your comment will not be displayed.