Bribing Children to Get Good Grades?

holding toy carI recently came across this article and guiltily agreed with the premise: Freakonomics Goes to School and Teaches Us the Right Way to Bribe Kids.

I used to shamelessly bribe my son with Hot Wheels. And it worked. He would get a new toy car for every A he scored on a test. Then one night, after dinner, I said, “Well, let’s go to the store so you can pick out a new Hot Wheels.”

He responded with,”Nah, I don’t really want any more cars, I just like getting As.”

However, as he got older, the bribes (instigated by me) became more significant. By his senior year in high school, he had worked his way up to a long board in exchange for a 4.0 average. Money well spent, in my opinion, since that GPA is the reason he was accepted into several colleges of his choice.

Now he is a junior in college and I’m already looking forward to his graduation day. Should I book the hotel now? What should I wear? How many tickets will we be able to get for family members? Yet the bigger question is looming, “What kind of reward would be appropriate for this glorious milestone?”

I may have created a monster, though, because my son has been dropping hints about a Ford F250.

So, what do you think? Do you use “material motivation” to inspire your child?


Share Your Child’s Creative Expression: Submit to Calvert Connection!

I have the best job in the world because I get paid to read.

One of the projects that makes my work so enjoyable is reviewing the Calvert Connection, a quarterly online magazine that showcases the accomplishments of Calvert and Verticy students. The submissions of our students are so refreshing, so uncontrived, that each issue reminds me of the Pablo Picasso quote:

It took me four years to paint like Raphael, but a lifetime to paint like a child.

Our daily existence adds so much needless complexity to our lives. It is a wonderful thing to spend a few minutes looking at our world through the eyes of a child. Sometimes, the view is innocent; sometimes we are reminded that children, especially, are affected by the tragedies that surround us.

child artwork and creative writing Verticy LearningA child’s artwork is not merely an exercise in manual dexterity, or a test of skills mastery. It is a mirror of their psyche. What are they thinking? How are they absorbing the messages that prevail in their world? Many times, children do not discuss those topics which are uppermost in their minds, but take one look at their writing or their drawings and you have an instant window into their concerns and their joys.

Never was this more evident than in the months and years following 911. My son was nine years old. Instantly, his artwork was filled with imagery of burning buildings and ominous airplanes. Not only were his creations a clue to me what was going through his mind, it was a catalyst to discuss his concerns. He painted. We discussed. He released.

You may be surprised to hear, that as an editor, when I read through the Connection submissions, I don’t care about grammar. I don’t care about punctuation. I am moved by heart. I am touched by the love a child has for her horse. My spirit is lifted by the use of color and the juxtaposition of beloved objects.

Our children’s creations are often pure emotion on paper. When engaged in the creative process, children shouldn’t worry about being judged and it is important that we don’t critique for mastery and expertise.

sample issue of the Calvert Connection the student magazineHere is a venue for expression that does not need to be graded. So, if you are enrolled in Calvert or Verticy, I encourage you to encourage your children to submit their work to the Calvert Connection. The next issue comes out in February, so if you submit by the beginning of February, your child could be published in the next issue. Click on the image to the right to see a sample issue! Instructions for submission are on the last page of the sample.

Poetry doesn’t need to rhyme.
Paintings don’t need to be pretty.
Drawings don’t need to be accurate.

Children become adults and will spend their lives being graded, and judged, and expected to follow the rules. Let them have the freedom of expression that is inherent in the creative process. It can even be a no-cost proposition. Anything can be used creatively.

For a fun challenge, try using only what is at hand. Glue, magazine pictures, string, leaves. My son and I used to take Sunday trips to the local quarry to collect rocks. We brought them home and rearranged them dozens of times to make sculptures.

Shhhhh. We are all actually learning something in the process. What better way to learn about our environment and recycling than through a found-art project?

Here are a few links to get your family motivated:

Uses of Art Therapy

Art in Education

Inspiration from Italy

Is it Art? Is it Recycling?