Can you Buy a Love for Learning?

Can you Buy a Love for Learning?

Karisah Watkins-Martin, Staff Writer

In the 21st century, it is becoming more and more apparent that our world revolves around the concept of the dollar bill. Our society has become engulfed in an incessant cycle that depends solely on money. So, it is no wonder that our school system would start to incorporate it into the modernized system of education. Many school districts across the country have begun to offer cash incentives to their students in order to get them to succeed. However, this new concept of “cash for grades” being integrated into  many schools across the country begs the question, “Do you really get what you pay for?” At the mall, yes. If you set your eyes on a pair of yellow sunglasses, then you get exactly that: a new pair of shades to wear during the next blazing 90 degree day. However, the concept doesn’t seem to hold true to the new incentive that many school systems are utilizing. You simply can’t buy a lifelong love of learning- especially with just a 10 dollars or a gift-card voucher for Subway.

Paying children for their grades a simply a short-term solution to a deep-rooted problem. The “cash for grades” incentive will surely motivate students to push for an A on their math test, but it simply isn’t enough to allow them to actually appreciate the material they are learning. There has to be a backbone for some sort of interest and passion that comes along with education; the enthusiasm can not be solely based off of being rewarded with money. What happens when students graduate and are thrust into the real world? There will be noone to hold their hand and pay them for every time they complete a simple task at their office jobs. In the real world, they will be expected to do their jobs without a dollar bill being waved in front of their face.

With this new incentive, students will become so dependent on being rewarded for doing what they are supposed to do that they loose the true appreciation and passion that learning is able to offer.  Intrinsic motivation – participating at school for the sheer pleasure that learning offers – is soon overshadowed by the promise of materialistic rewards, and a child’s natural enthusiasm for learning is hindered in the process. This “cash for grades” incentive doesn’t really teach kids the reward of learning for learning’s sake; they no longer have a thirst for knowledge, but a thirst for money and gift certificates.

And what about stepping back and thinking about the moral aspect involved in this new incentive. There is something about this practice that just feels…wrong. This “cash for grades” incentive is really just a fancy word for the term “bribing.” By utilizing this new policy, schools are teaching students they simply don’t have to try as hard unless money is being shoved down their throats.

By choosing to integrate this new policy, school systems are ultimately degrading our education system and what it stands for. Schools may be adopting a new modernized incentive, but they are also adopting the mindset that the value of learning can be reduced to nothing more than a gift card to Panera.