We have been exposed to a competitive environment since we started studying. Academic institutions have a way of measuring the performance of students based on different indicators. School awards are given based on good grades, perfect attendance, active participation in class discussions, and extra-curricular activities. These awards are their way of keeping students motivated to do their best in school. The more awards you have, the better. However, is this reward system the right way to motivate students?
School Awards Come in Different Forms
This kind of extrinsic motivation may come in different forms. In some schools, students are rewarded with food such as pizza, candies, cakes, ice creams, and the like. A celebration is held to honor students who have done a great job at surpassing the performance of others. However, health concerns have been raised regarding this kind of incentive. Children have started to become obese at an early age due to junk food. Health organizations were alarmed at the increasing rate of students who start to develop non-communicable lifestyle related diseases such as hypertension and diabetes. This is one proof that school awards molded in the form of food may be detrimental to the health status of students.
School awards may also be given as cash incentives. Students who get good grades or win in contests get financial rewards that can sustain the meals of an ordinary student for a week. The goal of this kind of reward system is to let the students feel the fruit of their hard work. It gives them a sense of pride to earn money because of their efforts. However, needless to say, this program has an effect on the budget of the school. This is a problem especially for small and struggling school districts. They face financial burden in exchange for the program that is supposed to make students feel more motivated. Other forms of school awards include recognize students in newsletters or giving them due recognition during students’ assembly in front of their peers.
Long-Term Effects of School Awards
There is nothing wrong in designing programs to encourage students to exert more effort. Students need to feel that they are recognized for their hard work. They cherish moments where they are the stars in their own fields. These school awards leave an impact to their academic experiences for a long time. However, in the long run, these incentive programs may not be as effective as we think they are. Because of these kinds of reward systems, learning stops and the search for rewards starts. Some students study not for the sake of learning but instead, they study for tangible rewards. They do not see the importance of learning anymore. What they see is its monetary value. They attach success to money and not to hard work, diligence, and discipline. School awards foster not just a healthy competition but the kind with jealousy and aggressiveness because of the presence of money or food. It should be instilled in the mind of a student that his/her only competitor is himself/herself. Students must strive to improve simply because they can and not because of anything else.
Small Things That Matter
School awards need not be extravagant or expensive. Sometimes, it’s the small things that matter. A simple token of appreciation such as a medal or certificate can send the message that the school wants to convey. A pat in the back can tell the students how proud the school is because of their achievements. Incentive programs need to be revisited to explore if the system works for the betterment of the students.