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What do you deserve for good behavior?

What's crackin, folks? As I type this I am trembling like I have the DTs, from inhaling too much coffee this morning.

Couldn't help it. Today was my weekly TV thingie, and that required me to be up and at 'em at the butt crack of dawn. Not my preferred time of day. Anyway, if you're inclined to watch, here is the link.

But if you can't stand several minutes of my brand of pretty, here's a recap: We talked about Fan Meizhong, the high school teacher in China who was fired for alleged cowardice after it was learned he ran from his classroom and school building during last month's deadly earthquake, without warning his students or waiting to make sure they got out with him. Fan later said he had no shame and that there was no way he was gonna risk his life for his students or anyone else, except his own daughter.

I blogged about this earlier in the week, and I have to admit I was surprised - not in a bad way though - that many of you felt like Fan was perfectly justified and that he didn't owe anything to those kids or their angry parents. Hey, you can't argue with self-preservation, I guess.

Anyway, moving write along, our second topic this morning was the 12-year-old girl in Chicago who won a new car for having perfect attendance in school.

I've been combing the Web looking for reaction on this story. And most of what I'm seeing falls in line with my thoughts: that giving a kid this big a reward for just showing up sends a bad message.

I understand that when people - whether school kids, or adult employees - do the right thing, they should get rewards from time to time, as gestures to let them know their hard work hasn't gone unnoticed and their efforts are appreciated.

But a car...just for showing up to school? Too much. Give the girl some tickets to an amusement park or a summer's worth of free movie passes.

While Chicago Public Schools meant well, I'm sure, what will happen I'm predicting is some kids will grow to expect a reward for doing what they're supposed to do. And eventually they will expect the reward before the "good deed" is performed and not as a result of the good deed being performed.

Again, I could be wrong, but it's best pre-teens and teens learn now that you do hard work and show up everyday, because you're supposed to and because it will get you further than lazy peers, not because there's a reward in it for you.

Remember earlier this week I blogged about landlords in my town wanting the city to give them "incentives" to maintain their property and police their tenants? I argued then their only mandatory incentive is that it's their property and their tenants, and therefore, their responsibility. Next thing you know, drivers who don't speed are going to want gifts for minding the legal limit. People who don't drink (too much) and drive are gonna want trophies. Pedestrians who don't jaywalk are gonna want commendations from the mayor.

Trust me, this is not a mentality we want spreading to Generation Y. Tell your kids that they have to do somethings because those things are right, and that they don't need any other reason.

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Jay

Around here every year high school graduates who maintained a certain GPA and perfect attendance are become eligible to win a free car. That doesn't bother me. But, a twelve year old? Crazy! How bout a bunch of tickets to Cubs games and maybe a free evening where she and her family and friends get the Museum of Natural history to themselves? There are plenty of better options than a car.

Here's an incentive for landlords: City ordinances and state laws require you to maintain your property. Do so or be prosecuted and fined. There's your incentive.

Pamela

If I was a kid with a chronic disease - which did not allow for perfect attendance, I would sue for discrimination.

No.. not really -- but it will happen. I guarantee it.

The Sarcasticynic

Chinese teachers who care little about their endangered students. Is it any wonder they don't seem to care about quality control over the crap they make for us?

Jeni Hill Ertmer

Does this qualify as a good enough reason to do something -"Because I said so!" Always worked pretty well when my Mom laid that law down on me.

heartinsanfrancisco

I think you're right on all counts, James. Whatever happened to doing good for its own sake, and not for a reward?

This does not teach children to be better people, but to manipulate the system to get more goodies. It's a very bad idea, to say nothing of the fact that a 12-year old is not even old enough to drive.

If the Chicago School system has that much extra cash around, they should use it to buy supplies like library books, computers, microscopes, or here's a really novel idea -- pay their teachers more.

M@

James,

I watched the entire thing. You look like a pimp. I like your shoes but you're missing a hat, I think.

Kay

Heck, I went to school from 4th - 12th grades without missing a day and all I got was a lousy paper certificate!

If we stayed home from school, it was stay in the bed all day and do nothing else but get well! After all the childhood diseases, I was a pretty healthy kid. :)

Say It

It bothers me that people are not satisfied with doing what is expected of them pays off with jsut the knowledge of doing a job. If you go above and beyond there is reward, either from others of for your own personal satisfaction of a job well done.

Is it that everyone gets trophies these days for just participating? What is it? Its annoying.

As for that teacher? Part of his job is responsibility for those students. Any decent human being would help the kids, he was not a decent human being.

Hope this makes sense and I didn't ramble/rant too much.

The CEO

I really like the way you found two items that it was so easy to get differing opinions on. I am still trying to understand why a 12 year old was given a car. How is this an appropriate reward for a 12 year old child? Why not a cash prize, which would have been just as inappropriate, but more useful. Or funding a 529 college fund? This is the Chicago Education System that figured this one out?

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