Tuesday, October 5, 2010
Paying Kids for Grades
Hey OPB listeners, check out what out erstwhile Central Oregon Bureau Chief, Ethan Lindsey, is doing these days: Freakonomics Radio! Cool.
Alerted to this fact, I see that one of the first stories is on the idea of paying kids for grades to improve educational performance. Sounds like a no brainer, right? Put the incentive right at the crux of the problem: learning is hard work so motivate kids to work harder.
Turns out this only sometimes works. The reasons are still speculative but the most interesting theory is that only some kids 'know the production function.' In other words, only some kids understand what they have to do to get better grades. For them it is not just about effort but about learning how to learn.
Give lazy kids from educated middle class households money for As and it works great. Give lower class kids from less-well educated households money and it often doesn't work out so well, because they don't understand what they need to do to get an A.
Sometimes money isn't the only answer.