Monday, September 26, 2011

Punished By Rewards

Hi Everyone,

I am reading a book at the moment written by a lady called Angeline Stoll Lillard called
Montessori, The Science behind the Genius. Which even though it is an academic read (and I am taking a very long time to get through it) It covers some interesting points about Montessori education.

One of the chapters in this book covers why Montessori does not use grades or rewards as part of her educational structure. It is very interesting that in her findings that she found children did not learn as well with grades or rewards as the children who were given the grades and the reward.

As a person who went through the traditional school system with grades and worked hard to make good grades I found this intriguing to see that it was more of a demotivater than a motivator. Since Montessori observed this in children and it was not backed up by a study at the time children this book looks at the recent studies on children who were rewarded by grades or a prize to children who were given nothing as a reward for doing the work. The interesting thing was the children who were given the reward when retested actually recalled less than than the children who were given nothing. The children who had the reward had learnt something enough to pass the test and get the reward. They had  what the psychologist refer to as 'surface learning' they later retested both groups of children and the children given the reward were not able to recall the same amount as the children who were given nothing. The children who were given nothing remembered a lot more of the subject matter and were also more motivated to go and learn more about the subject than the children given the reward.

In my own experience as a person who was traditionally schooled I was very motivated to get good grades and do the 'right thing' but as for my learning when I ask myself what I learnt at school I will be honest I have very little recollection of learning at school and I can still recall subject matter today of the subjects I enjoyed learning which was year 11 and 12 when I got to choose the subjects myself. I do remember cramming for tests because I wanted to pass and get a good grade but I would then completely forget the subject just learnt and start cramming for the next.

With my own daughter I have done sticker charts and rewards and it works for a short time and than I have to change what I do so she is continually motivated. When my DD first started toilet training I used a sticker chart with rewards along the way ans it worked great and she was going to the toilet all the time than as the sticker chart and the rewards came to an end she stopped going to the toilet when she realised there was no longer a reward in it for her. She has since gone back into nappies and flatly refuses to toilet train (Much to my disgust) because I have told her there is no more rewards and she wants something each time she goes tot the toilet. So rewards certainly don't work with her :(.

What is your experience with rewards for yourself and your children and do you use them with your children? Let me know what your thoughts are.


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