Bribery?! Haven’t We Been There, Done That?

The Health section of The New York Times on March 2 debated the usefulness of bribing school children with money, toys, candy and electronic gizmos to have them attain better grades.

When I was in school, it was cute stickers and the pride of getting a good grade that you could brag about that made your parents all sorts of happy.  The good grade was the proximate award for all the hard work.  Getting the reputation as being smart was a good thing, and becoming valedictorian was great, as was qualifying for scholarships of all sizes for college.  Spending a lifetime knowing you worked hard and earned what you had the hard way was the long-term reward.

Now, some geniuses want to rob children of all of that.  These greater minds than ours want children to fight for things of substance (money) rather than for things of glory (purpose).  Not all endeavors have a high rate of financial return:  a hospice worker helps the dying and their families face their fears of death; a fireman runs into burning buildings to save complete strangers from a horrible death; kindergarten teachers introduce our children to the world of budding independence, self-confidence, social maneuvering and the alphabet…and that’s only a few examples.

Frankly, we need more kind and compassionate people than we do more “A” students in this world, as it turns out that the greatest thieves (many CEOs, crooked politicians and Ponzi scheme giants), terrorist masterminds, and general sociopaths all have very high IQ levels and got great grades.

How about us giving financial rewards, candy and electronic gizmos to kids who go out of their way not to bully, tease, steal, lie, sexually harass, or sexually act-out?  Or to those who won’t drink or take drugs or steal or backtalk their elders? 

Would that work, I wonder?