“We all learn to respond to incentives, negative and positive, from the outset of life. If you toddle over to the hot stove and touch it, you burn a finger. But if you bring home straight A’s from school, you get a new bike. If you are spotted picking your nose in class, you get ridiculed. But if you make the basketball team, you move up the social ladder…
An incentive is simply a means of urging people to do more of a good thing and less of a bad thing. But most incentives don’t come about organically. Someone — an economist or a politician or a parent — has to invent them.”- Freakonomics: A Rogue Economist Explores the Hidden Side of Everything Steven D. Levitt and Stephen J. Dubner
This exert from chapter one of Freakonomics, does a great job to describe incentives as well as why they work. The second part is particularly true for school; teachers have to “invent” the incentive. School isn’t a natural incentive for all students. Some kids don’t care about making good grades and even if they have the ability they don’t see the need for a college education. Therefore we have to provide incentives to get the results we want. This is a change in thinking from the day when teachers expected kids to come to school ready and willing to learn, which was considered to be the students job. Well now more than ever it is the teachers job to motivate, and yes in some cases even bribe (with an incentive), kids to come to school and do their best.
So if you have the not-so-motivated student in your room and need some ideas for new incentives try this link for 100 free rewards. Remember you “invent” the incentive, so make it something you are willing to stick with.