Monday, September 8, 2008

Bribe 'em, jail 'em or teach 'em...

Three views on learning

D.C. Supt. Michelle Rhee wants to cut a check to kids who do their homework and attend school regularly. Like her backers, Bill Gates and Eli Broad, Rhee believes that everyone has their price and that student motivation can be driven primarily by money.

Then there’s those who think that the stick is more effective than the carrot.

“If we have to jail them, we’ll jail them,” says a Prince George’s County board member, threatening truant students and their parents.

Fordham's Liam Julian is also in the learning-through-discipline mode. He abhors Rhee’s pay-for-scores approach, opting instead for the stick strategy.

Even the best schools struggle with the recalcitrant youngster seemingly bent on doing anything but study, of course. But this rogue requires strict discipline, not bribes.

Thankfully there are still some progressive souls around who still believe, “school districts and foundations should invest instead in programs that tap into and build on kids' intrinsic motivation,” write Kathy Seal and Wendy Grolnick, in the LA Times (“Pay to learn shortchanges kids.”)

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