Friday, February 17, 2006

Cash moves everything around me - $$ bills ya'll

Wellington High School awards $50 to students who turn up to class everyday for the year. This has been met with criticism and fan fare – you can read about it here.

I am personally overwhelmed by education sector news at the moment – it has been a very interesting year so far, and this is another very interesting story.
Personally I believe that this kind of incentive system is flawed. Those students who can come to school everyday being rewarded is placing incentives in the wrong place.
It is highly likely that those students who do turn up everyday would have had the capacity to already- Therefore this would not tackle any truancy issues.

I can see that if you give money to those who turn up there may be some incentive for those ‘once a year waggers’ to not take that day off but I think that the focus on giving money to these students (only 13 last year at the school) is missing the point completely.

Truancy is a problem that must be tackled from four directions; The school, the student, the parents/ whänau and the community. The payment to students only focuses on the student and avoids the root of truancy problem. We should be less concerned about the ‘once a year’ waggers – who I think we have all been at some stage, and more concerned about those who are constantly truanting for those students $50 is not enough of an incentive to keep them at school.

I also have a problem with money being an incentive – it is perverse. I feel that certificates and references are a more appropriate reward for this type of achievement. Firstly because schools have little money and secondly because of the message that this is sending to young adults – that money is the only worthwhile incentive, we should make sure that we teach our young people about responsibility, duties and rights and this is removed from the world of money – otherwise the underlying message that is being sent is that it is not worth doing anything unless there is money attached to it.

I feel that this is another example of a school simplifying a complex issue – like truancy – which must be tackled through a sustained and multi layed set of actions. Offering money to these students avoids the real issue and that is what is going on with those students who do not turn up to school