I was thumbing through Mavericks at Work after having read it for the second time and this quote really stuck out:
“There’s another lesson that’s really obvious,” he continues. “You cannot motivate the best people with money. Money is just a way to keep score. The best people in any field are motivated by passion. That becomes more true the higher the skill level gets. People do their best work when they are passionately engaged in what they’re doing” (91).
It really got me thinking about motivating students. When I was younger, I was partially motivated by money. Let me explain. So my parents would reward my brother and I with $10 per A in a class. This usually meant $60 pay days at the end of the "quarter" (I put it in quotations because at my high school they were actually trimesters but called "quarters") or, at worst, $50 dollars. Now, if I knew I was going to get a B in just 1 class, I wasn't going to kill myself over $10 extra bucks - let's face it, for a 12-16 year old (the age I was in high school) $50 is still a large amount of money. So how much did money really motivate me? Or was it simply passion for learning (or getting good grades, or even the recognition that accompanies good grades) that motivated me?
Looking back, I'd say the positive feelings of getting good grades, and the accompanying recognition, are what really drove me. Sure, I love learning, but there's nothing quite like having people recognize you for your achievements. In fact, I read that in a national employee survey, employees value recognition and compliments over pay. Yeah, no one is going to work for free - but they'll probably stick around longer if they know they're valued and are going to be recognized for their achievements.
So now the question is this - how do you motivate a student who may not have a passion for learning and doesn't care for recognition? At that point does it come back to money?
These two questions got Orion and myself thinking a few weeks back - why aren't there hybrid scholarships that "pay for grades"? Say $20 for each A, $5 for each B, $0 for each C, -$10 for each D, and $-25 for each F. I put in negatives because if someone gets 3 A's, 1 B, and 2 F's, I'd want them to be "punished" for F's by taking away some of the money they "earned" for the A's and B's (in this specific case the student would make $15 instead of $65 if they weren't "punished").
OK, so besides the fact that people would complain about students only focusing on good grades, and not focusing on learning per se, what else is a negative of this method? It's something I've been looking into, because all too often I've seen very bright students who just don't care about school getting poor grades. Any other ideas about "hybrid" scholarships or other ways to motivate students?