Victorian primary school bans rewards such as certificates, medals and ribbons as well as in-house competitions.
St James’ Parish School near Ballarat, 100km west of Melbourne, has moved to eliminate extrinsic rewards after seeing significant improvements in the children’s mentality.
Co-principal Peter Fahey told Yahoo7 News the school began to roll out the initiative 15 years ago but it had taken a lot of work from all involved to get to the level they’re at now.
“It’s been a long adventure – we started this process 15 years ago,” he said.
“At that point we saw a lot of our children quite anxious and stressed and we realised there was a craving for them to be social beings again.
“The focus is now on learning as opposed to extrinsic motivations such as rewards.”
Mr Fahey said the transformation has been “massive” not only on the sporting field but in the classroom.
Mr Fahey explained the school would record each pupil’s competency level and statistics at the start of the year and would then shift the focus on learning via feedback to better the children.
“Throughout the rest of the term we practised. Children received feedback on developed skills and then participated in school sports,” he said.
The process has been gradual over the years, according to Mr Fahey, with certificates and prizes known as extrinsic rewards eventually taken away.
“We moved over time to eliminate certificates, we then eliminated weekly ceremonies. We substituted that with educating staff who pursued feedback on learning throughout curriculum,” he said.
“The difference is now our children are competing for the love of the sport. They’re not after this external reward. They get their dopamine and serotonin fix from the actual improvement and engagement in other people.”
I am in two minds over this. I know children don’t need rewarding for everything they do. You certainly don’t get that in the real world. But sometimes a little bit of recognition can go a long way towards encouraging a child to strive to succeed or improve.
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