Money rewards are dangerous to a high school education

Students should not be offered a money incentive for achieving good grades

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Money rewards are dangerous to a high school education

Joe McClain, Mill Valley News reporter

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After each semester, I always hear a symphony of comments from my friends about the money they received for their grades.  At first, I thought that this incentive provided a good source of motivation for them, but after some research, I discovered that I was mistaken.  Money incentives for good grades should not be offered to students because it takes away from their education and trains them to work toward instantly gratifying results rather than long term goals.

Rewards are just the other side of the same coin of punishment.  Both have a weak long term effect.  Earning grades for money may push students to try harder in school, but it will be for all the wrong reasons.  In addition, if they do not achieve the desired grades nor the desired money prize, they will be even more discouraged than being punished.  This causes students to stress out about grades more than a healthy young adult should.

The students who go through high school focused on earning a certain grade to collect money will be afraid to take risks in their learning.  Grades might look good on paper, but education isn’t just about remembering information, it’s also about being able to create new ideas and becoming a lifelong learner.  Education is a privilege, and people should be careful not to take that for granted.

Money rewards can ruin the point of an education, to be sure, but most students would accept money as a reward for achieving good grades.  Working hard to be paid is not the same as being paid for working hard; the difference is in the motive.  Motivation coming from enthusiasm for learning and ambition is  a lot more effective than motivation coming from a desire for money and instant gratification.  If the value of an education is truly upheld, achieving good grades is a reward in itself.

Incentive plans work neither in schools nor in the workplace.  It causes students to lose value in their education and provides a dangerous type of motive for success.  Motivation stemming from personal goals and ambitions should be taught and developed to combat the motivation coming from money.

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