Advanced search

Chocolate, i-pods and detentions

(14 Posts)
Nattie Sun 11-Jan-09 12:48:50

I don't know if I'm overreacting because I seem to get aeriated about everything school-related, but I find it difficult to accept the motivational techniques employed by ds's school.

It is a middle school (very very few regions in the country have this system anymore) for years 5, 6, 7 & 8.

If they don't do homework within the two days of being given it they get detentions; they get between half an hour and an hour's homework, 5 days a week - this started from day one of year 5.

However, if they toe the line then they do get bonus/house points but also are rewarded with chocolate and now a new system has been introduced. For pupils with a 'good attitude to school' they've started awarding i-pods to two pupils in every year each month.

Call me old-fashioned, but what happened to motivational teaching? Should I just bite the bullet? Is this the way of education, now?

My ds is very fed up with my constant ranting so I've just stopped. I have put my money where my mouth is and am now a governor at the school but I don't trust my perspective.

purepurple Sun 11-Jan-09 13:04:40

jeebus, do we really have to bribe them with chocolates and i-pods now? My DD is in year 7 and has just had a post card sent home telling us they were very happy with the results of her science exam. I have rewarded her by buying her some books from Amazon, she wanted Anne Frank's Diary, they are reading it at school, Spilled water and the boy in the striped pyjamas. as a governer can you not question their methods? And what's wrong with a book token it was good enough for us....

lljkk Sun 11-Jan-09 13:09:49

I wouldn't have a problem with it.
Out of curiousity, what do you have to do to get the iPod?
There was another thread on MN about how 'truly inspiration teachers can deal with X problems'... and I thought, how many inspirational teachers do you expect a child to encounter in their school career? Honestly, I never had one I reckon, was I just very unlucky?? It seems (imho, on MN anyway) like too much is expected of teachers. They are only people, if they were usually such inspirational charismatic superstars they'd be in another (better paying) career, probably.
So in the real world, where most teachers are merely caring and diligent, maybe it makes sense to have a range of pupil incentive schemes.
Just my thruppence.

lljkk Sun 11-Jan-09 13:11:25

And what is "motivational teaching", anyway? Is it jargon that everyone else on MN but me will recognise and know what the words mean?

roisin Sun 11-Jan-09 13:27:10

I think they are (rightly) attempting to recognise the children who do always have their heads down working and doing what they are supposed to be doing.

In my school we have all sorts of initiatives to try and engage those students who are on the margins, and struggling to participate in whole-class mainstream lessons. These sort of initiatives can easily be interpreted as 'rewards'.

As a counterbalance to this, it is important to recognise and appropriately reward those students who do consistently tow the line. We have a system of 'key students' and 'leading students' in years 8 and 9, similar to prefects in yr11. They get additional rights and privileges, but also additional responsibilities.

roisin Sun 11-Jan-09 13:30:10

I think the 'meat' of the reward is often immaterial, but the fact that there is one, that someone is monitoring behaviour/attitude is important.

At ds1's school (secondary) they do lots of certificates and these are presented in whole-school assembly (ie very publicly). This is saying this is what we value in school, this is what we want everyone to aspire to. I approve wholeheartedly.

littlerach Sun 11-Jan-09 13:36:02

Yes, one of our local comps ahs this kind of idea, but based on commendations.

I htink the students decided what would motivate them and then voted on it (vouchers and ipod for top prize).

They are expected to get a commendation for each lesson.

Takver Sun 11-Jan-09 13:56:15

Perhaps it depends on the school and the child - DDs school (primary) has lots of certificates - it also is an area where (even though there are a lot of low income families) most children come from a background where education is highly valued, so the children are getting lots of positive messages from all sides and the certificates just reinforce that.
My FiL used to work at a school for children with a lot of children with behavioural problems and other special needs - they used lots of material rewards where the children could earn points and either use them on something small like chocolate or save them towards a larger item. Talking to him it sounds like that was really helpful in that situation for those children.

Nattie Sun 11-Jan-09 14:16:27

Maybe I'm just being old fashioned, then?

I expect all teachers to be 'inspirational' to some extent. How do they get them to do anything without inspiring them? Otherwise aren't they just administrators making sure students complete worksheets week after week? I don't mean charismatic - I didn't meet one of those throughout my whole school career, either.

I'm not happy when a teacher says to year 5 children that if they don't dress up in medieval costume for their medieval field trip, they won't be getting off the coach, or the last year 5 child into the changing rooms from the playing field gets a detention or, in PSHE, the girls in Year 5 are told not to bother with boyfriends because all boys are useless or that they don't do a Christmas show in middle school because that's for babies.

I think i-pods are a just a step too far. They do get certificates for achieving bonus/house point targets which are presented in assemblies and I'd be ok with book tokens.

I'm trying to be objective about it; my ds is never going to achieve receiving-an-i-pod status as he is mediocre academically and bucks against authority and I know there will be other children who will never achieve this either. If I was in that situation, I would find it demotivating as I know I would never achieve that. I am the least competitive person in the world.

I am only just a governor but I'm not going to go in stamping my feet immediately.

roisin Sun 11-Jan-09 18:16:21

But maybe your son might learn not to buck against authority so that he would be in with a chance of winning something like this?

janeite Sun 11-Jan-09 18:26:22

The problem is that many children wouldn't be at all motivated by a book token but would be by an I-pod. I think that schools should be applauded for trying to find ways to reward the many pupils who just go into school day by day and get on with things to the best of their ability, whatever their ability is.

There are so many threads on Mumsnet at times complaining that all the reward systems seem to be being used for motivating the "naughty" kids, whilst the "good" are ignored: this seems to be doing things in the way that it should be done.

And if your son bucks against authority, perhaps this will teach him that sometimes there are rewards for following rules!

cory Sun 11-Jan-09 18:40:01

The problem Janeite is that the school can't afford more than two iPods- so who gets them? It's hardly going to be the many pupils who get on with things every day. How do select them? How do you measure a pupil who was always had a wonderful attitude towards the school against one who has had a bad one but has now improved quite a bit. Or 5 pupils with a perfectly reasonable attitude against each other? Sounds very divisive when the prizes are such good ones and therefore limited.

Have to admit I was touched when dd got an attendance award in Year 7. Dd has chronic pain and for her to be present on 80% of the days is an enormous achievement. She's had nothing but flak for her attendance before- nasty notes from the head, visits from EWO. SO this (in her new school) was a way of saying 'yes, we do see what this has cost you, this is an achievement.' But then, it was only a cheap pen. I would have been worried if it had been an iPod.

Small cheap rewards are the best when children are concerned IMO. A laminated note from the head. A smile from the teacher. The chance to display a project you have taken pains over.

cory Sun 11-Jan-09 18:41:55

Nattie on Sun 11-Jan-09 14:16:27

"I'm not happy when a teacher says to year 5 children that if they don't dress up in medieval costume for their medieval field trip, they won't be getting off the coach, or the last year 5 child into the changing rooms from the playing field gets a detention or, in PSHE, the girls in Year 5 are told not to bother with boyfriends because all boys are useless or that they don't do a Christmas show in middle school because that's for babies."

My goodness, where is this awful school? Never heard anything like it.

littlerach Sun 11-Jan-09 19:00:24

Nattie, it isn't necessarily for academic achievement at all. More for strving to achieve I htink.

Join the discussion

Registering is free, easy, and means you can join in the discussion, watch threads, get discounts, win prizes and lots more.

Register now »

Already registered? Log in with: