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MONEY: How Parental Fears Might Shade Views Of Roland Fryer

Thanks to Alan Gottlieb at the Schools for Tomorrow blog for tracking down the embeddable version of the Roland Fryer interview from Monday night's Colbert Report.  You can check it out here:  Colbert interviews the bribe king.

Screenhunter_04_dec_02_0059It's curious and troubling that some people are so quick to deride Fryer's ideas as "bribery" when they could just as easily be labeled as rewards, incentives, or -- !! -- allowance. 

The payments are an otherwise-unlikely graduation present, doled out in little increments over time.  They're the cell phone minutes that would usually come from a parent who buys a family plan or rewards a child for taking out the trash. 

That it, assuming that anyone really makes their kids do chores anymore. Part of me thinks that the strong reaction against Fryer's ideas is really about middle- and upper-middle-class parents' fears about having spoiled (ruined?) their own children by giving them too much.


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My mind is slowly changing on this. I have considered it bribery, but I've seen it showing some signs of success, at least in isolated pockets. I guess it's my naive belief that there are ways to intrinsically motivate people that has me resisting this strategy.

I am of the "do it because it is the right thing to do," school. Nonetheless, I have one child for whom I would consider it money well spent, if it worked (and so far it hasn't). Yet, what I always find striking is the dual standards that we expect for students and teachers. Students should demonstrate their learning and march to an intrinsic set of values (which include the value of learning). Punishment (or consequences) are OK if they don't. Teachers should not have to demonstrate that they are teaching (or that learning occurs). They should receive regular rewards and there should be no consequences for inadequate levels of success.

good point, margo --
and yes, alan -- it's gotta work.
thanks to both of you.

I thought a few of you might be interested in a few interesting new books on modern middle and upper middle class parenting. There’s a great review by Joan Acocella in the New Yorker http://www.newyorker.com/arts/critics/books/2008/11/17/081117crbo_books_acocella . The opening paragraph is a hoot. I wonder how many of you have been there...it is a modern form of hell.

“We’ve all been there—that is, in the living room of friends who invited us to dinner without mentioning that this would include a full-evening performance by their four-year-old. He sings, he dances, he eats all the hors d’oeuvres. When you try to speak to his parents, he interrupts. Why should they talk to you, about things he’s not interested in, when you could all be discussing how his hamster died? His parents seem to agree; they ask him to share his feelings about that event. You yawn. Who cares? Dinner is finally served, and the child is sent off to some unfortunate person in the kitchen. The house shakes with his screams. Dinner over, he returns, his sword point sharpened. His parents again ask him how he feels. It’s ten o’clock. Is he tired? No! he says. You, on the other hand, find yourself exhausted, and you make for the door, swearing never to have kids or, if you already did, never to visit your grandchildren. You’ll just send checks.”

I’ll think twice about asking my daughter to play the piano at our next dinner party.

I don't mind incentives... I just think giving a 4th grader money to spend on nonsense isn't the smartest use of an incentive.

Kid earns money, buys jewelry, jewelry gets stolen by a drug runner who makes more money than Kid ever could in Fryer's program. Kid gets the bigger picture. Kid starts dealing drugs. Repeat.

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