When I moved my blog from Blogger to WordPress last summer I mistakenly assumed that all posts would seamlessly transfer. I have since found the error in my thinking and have decided to re-post some of my more discussed posts that didn’t survive the move. This is one of those posts.
Today the debate turned to perfect attendance rewards, something that seems innocent enough on the surface, but can elicit debate in even the most timid teachers. I was lucky to engage in a great dialogue with a trusted colleague but also turned to educators around the world to get their input. The judgment was swift and to the point, most were vehemently opposing them, lambasting them for what they thought they really were; bandaid awards to those students who may not otherwise receive an award.
So why is rewarding students for perfect attendance not a great concept? The ideas were many:
- It is one more way for schools to separate the winners from the losers in a public forum.
- It rewards students just for shwoing up, not effort, work ethic or learning. What life skill does that teach since there are no jobs that reward you merely for showing up.
- Perfect attendance award does nothing but encourage students to come to school even when they are sick enough to stay home or contagious.
- It makes losers out of the kids where life situations prevent them from coming to school; funerals, court, counselor appointments etc.
- We are rewarding kids based on their parents behavior; whether they can get them to school or not. Why disappoint the kids further that already are battling with parents that may not be able to supply reliable transportation.
- If this is the only thing we can rewards students for then we are not spending enough time recognizing or uncovering their talents.
- And finally, my own opinion; if we have to reward students to come to school then what value are we placing on schools? School is meant to be a place of stimulation, of excitement, of amazing discoveries. Not a place where you show up just so you get a reward. Not a place that has to have a reward tied to it as theperetual carrot. While I agree that we should celebrate those students that do show up day in and day out, I just don’t think that an award eceremony is the right venue for it.
Add your voice to the debate! Is a perfect attendance award ceremony simply a cute certificate that does no harm, is it no big deal, or is it another way to compartmentalize students?