I'll Take an A for $100, Alex.

BlogHer Original Post

Paying for grades, paying for grades. Bribery? Reward? Right? Wrong?

I'll give you the answer for $20.

That's sort of how it feels to me. I believe in systems of rewards, because rewards are how the world works, at least in America.  You work hard, you get a reward (a salary, a bonus, a trip, something). I also believe in teaching kids from the get-go how the world works, which is why I'm a fan of offering an allowance for extra chores.

So ... I can't figure out why I'm totally opposed to giving a child money for good grades. How is it different than rewarding other desired behavior?

Allow me to think publicly. My inner monologue (and my inner monologue is weirder than what I usually write here, so brace yourself):

1) Paying a kid for chores (extra or regular, whatever) rewards THEM for helping YOU. I suppose you could argue that everyone benefits from hygiene, but blogger, PLEASE. Paying a kid for grades rewards THEM for helping THEM. THAT IS NOT CAPITALISM. (Am I too cynical?)

2) Grades don't measure intelligence. If you thought they did, you probably got straight As in school. They measure a combination of intelligence, motivation, parental involvement and individual teacher standards. You can know only the bare minimum about a subject and still get an A (witness my high school math grades and see my inability to calculate the square footage of my yard). Or you can know tons about a subject but fail the class because you weren't paying attention to what was going to be on the test and studied the wrong stuff.  So if you're paying for a grade, you might not be paying for any actual knowledge.

3) Kids could put in the same amount of effort and get different grades. So one gets more money than the other? I only have one kid, so this argument is academic (ba-dum-CHING!) for me, but it does go into my thought process. I think you should only pay a kid for something he or she can control via effort, not something he or she is inherently born with.

4) If your kid is going to apply him or herself academically just for money, that makes me sort of itch. Would you pay your kid for touchdowns or homeruns? (Do people do that? Hold me.)

5) Paying for grades might ruin my daughter's ability to intrinsically motivate herself. I want her to get good grades, sure, but I also know they're not the only thing you get out of school. I also want her to learn to make friends, to participate in activities and to carry herself well in public. All of these things are life skills, but I wouldn't pay her for any of the others. Why pay her for grades?

Do you pay for grades? If so, why? And do you see fault with any of my inner monologue? Because my kid just started kindergarten. The jury's not out yet.

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