Wednesday, November 12, 2008


Our playground at school was covered with tiny rocks about 1/4 inch
in size. The principal decided that the punishment for throwing rocks would be to fill a large coffee can with the tiny pebbles using a small plastic spoon. As soon as the first student had to fill the can I had other students clamoring around me asking for a can and a spoon so they could join in on the fun.
Another surprise that made me think was when I wrote a note or gave a sticker to a student for being good hoping the "reward" would change behavior. The rest of the students started to wail, "I've been good too". It was true but I did not have time to write a note for every sthdent every day.
The most effective behavior modification plan was when I would consult with a parent. The parent would give the child something small to carry in his/her pocket. If the child came home with it, the parent knew it had been a good day. That way the child could be accountable for his own behavior without it becoming a public issue. In the first two cases the reward or punishment initially did not bring the desired behavior change.

WHAT I LEARNED: Rewards such as stickers or good notes are not always the best motivator. Skinnerian rewards work for training dogs as shown by Pavlov. Children will respond just as the dogs. They want to please as well as satisfy their own gratification but the outcomes are noy akways what one would expect.

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