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Kids are brilliant

Contrary to the quote in the last post, some kids have quite brilliant instincts in terms of evaluating life and situations.  Take this example from Time Magazine’s cover story on bribing kids to get better grades:

In junior high school, one of my classmates had a TV addiction — back before it was normal. This boy — we’ll call him Ethan — was an encyclopedia of vacuous content, from The A-Team to Who’s the Boss?

Then one day Ethan’s mother made him a bold offer. If he could go a full month without watching any TV, she would give him $200. None of us thought he could do it. But Ethan quit TV, just like that. His friends offered to let him cheat at their houses on Friday nights (Miami Vice nights!). Ethan said no.

One month later, Ethan’s mom paid him $200. He went out and bought a TV, the biggest one he could find.

That story is just awesome.  The article is not bad either, talking about the merits of such programs.  Institutionalizing it might have some unforeseen affects, but that’s what case studies are for.

I think they may have jumped the shark a bit here, though.  It is hardly the most extreme case of incentives in action.  Back in 2009 a town in North Carolina started paying teenage girls a buck a day not to get pregnant.

On a side note, I credit a similar program in my youth with the fact that I never got below an A+ until I was in 8th grade [insert some sort of joke at my expense here].   The program was run by a local hobby shop that sold all sorts of arts and crafts, but, more importantly, baseball cards!  You got a certain reward depending on the As and Bs you got.  My streak of straight As  came to an end at the close of my 8th grade school year.  Coincidentally, that was also the time at which I stopped collecting baseball cards.


2 Responses

  1. i love that Ethan got a TV with his money.

    i think it is an interesting study, but its dangerous.

    what happens when the incentives stop? just like the kids who stopped drawing for drawing’s sake. next, kids will think they deserve something for NOT fighting with each other.

    Do we really want kids to think they deserve money for doing well in school?

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