Last night I couldn’t sleep. As I lay awake staring at the ceiling, I reflected on a post, purportedly written by a primary school teacher, that was the object of a Twitter storm. Reading through the tweets was an interesting experience, trying to follow the various arguments/discussions to make sense of the different points of view. It seems to me that a) the blog is a spoof (since posting this blog, I was asked to think about how I would feel is someone said my blog was a spoof-a point well made and I apologise to @quirkyteacher); b) the purpose of the blog is to engender debate about some educational practices; c) other people have very strong views which can make it difficult to see any other point of view and d) I realised that I often ‘sit on the fence’ and watch, rather than get involved.
So here I am getting off the fence.
In the original post, the teacher was describing the culture of rewards in her school. Essentially that every child should be ‘Star of the Week’ at some point, so that sometimes minimal effort was rewarded. Many people felt that this was wrong, and I find myself in agreement with this view.
However, I started to look at my own context. How do I reward children? In my Junior school we have a system of rewards: Team Points, Merits and Golden Time. Team points reward the whole team; Merits reward individual effort and achievement and Golden Time rewards individual good behaviour. Every child is able to earn any or all of the rewards. I believed that the systems encouraged effort and good behaviour but since reading the blog, I am questioning that belief. Surely that was the intention of the blogger; to invite us to examine our reward systems, our beliefs and evaluate the effect they have on our pupils?
Like other Tweeters, I question the emotive language used by the blogger, however would the post have inspired such a debate without it? I will certainly be looking closely at the effectiveness of my rewards this week.