Ancora Imparo - I am still learning

Sunday, June 22, 2008

To Reward or Not to Reward... That is the Question

I think some people may have misunderstood my intent in my blogging about my making the dean's list. I did word it strangely - especially for an unschooler. When I said that I explained the dean's list to Taliesin as a reward for me just the way he gets rewards for when he does well in school, I did not mean it in the traditional school way. I guess I'm just used to using certain terminology with Taliesin. He knows what I mean, so I think everyone does. And that's definitely not the case. When I say to Taliesin, you get a reward for doing well in school, that means he did a good job sharing with his brother or he took turns nicely or the two of them did not argue. For a while, when Taliesin would go somewhere and an adult with speak to him, he would talk back. We talked about how that is disrespectful, how he does not like to be treated that way, and he has done a lot better. When he does an extra good job at being respectful and working with his brother as a team, sometimes the two of them get rewards. I found a packet of reward certificates at Dollar Tree a few months ago. We use them for everything from a trip to the park to being able to get a Happy Meal to getting a toy from the dollar store. That is what I meant when I said I explained to Taliesin that the dean's list for me was like a reward for him when he does well "in school." As an unschooling family, we do not keep grades. We evaluate behavior and real-life experiences. I am not at all opposed to rewards. I do believe we are able to have rewards in real life. If I do well at work, I will get a raise in my pay. If I go above and beyond, oftentimes the company I work for will offer incentives. That actually happened this past Christmas. The company for which I work was asking customers for a charitable donation. Many of the employees did not ask. I did, not because I wanted a reward (or even thought about that at all), but because I believed in the cause. However, it was a nice surprise when they gave me a gift card for being one of the top employees at having customers donate. In the same way, I want Taliesin and Nathanael to realize that the real reward is in working as team, is being respectful to others; but, every once in a while, there may be a little surprise to go along with it.

That said, I am not totally against grades, either. Whether we keep grades when Taliesin and Nathanael get older will really be up to them. If they want us to keep grades, we will. If they want to continue with no grades, that's great, too. For me, personally, my grades are important to me. Most people think I'm crazy because I strive for "A"s. I'm disappointed with "B"s. I push myself to the limit when it comes to my grades. But that's just me. I really do not consider myself a perfectionist by any stretch of the imagination. But good grades are important to me. It's kind of strange, because getting good grades was never something that was stressed when I was young. My mom honestly would have been the perfect unschooler had she thought about it. She was almost to the point of being anti-education. She never pushed any of her kids to go to college. She never pushed for "A"s or "B"s. She just wanted us to do our best. But good grades were and still are something that I am passionate about. There's that word again - passionate. Some people call me eccentric. That's a good adjective as well. If I were a color, I'd be red. I'm as passionate as passionate can be when the topic is something that is important to me - like making good grades.



unschoolermom said...

P.S. Sorry for leaving out quotation marks and for some misworded sentences. Fingers going too quickly. LOL


Stephanie said...

I always wonder what you mean you say school. I believe that terminolgy is important especially online. We live as if school didn't exist if I said school my kids would go, "huh?"

Unschooling has nothing to do with school, grades, tests, rewards it's just about living and learning.

You can do what you want but please be careful how you word it so you don't confuse the rest of us, LOL!

unschoolermom said...

Kids will be asked where they go to school. That's just a part of life. Unschooling is child-directed learning, for us that means if they want natural learning, they have natural learning, if they want worksheets, they have worksheets, if they want to go to an art class at the art center, they go there. It's child-directed. I, personally, love the term delight-driven learning. Learning is driven by my children's delights - whatever form those may take. If they want grades, we will do grades. If they don't, we won't. I, personally, do not think that violates unschooling, child-directed learning. Anyway, that's how we do unschooling. Unschooling has such a broad definition.