Debate Magazine

Reforming Our Schools with High-tech Cell Phones

By Stevemiranda

Today I saw the abstract of an academic paper submitted by Roland G. Fryer, CEO of Harvard’s Education Innovation Laboratory. In “Teacher Incentives and Student Achievement: Evidence from New York City Public Schools,” the author writes,

“I find no evidence that teacher incentives increase student performance, attendance, or graduation, nor do I find any evidence that the incentives change student or teacher behavior. If anything, teacher incentives may decrease student achievement, especially in larger schools.”

* * *

This is not surprising. The academic literature of the past 40 years has relentlessly confirmed this finding.

Further research about the Education Innovation Laboratory however, yielded less encouraging news. While Fryer opposes giving cash rewards to teachers, he seems enthusiastic about giving money to students!

For example, one program uses cash incentives to “encourage 9th and 10th grade students to get better grades and pass their classes.” Another gives middle school students “financial rewards for performance in school across five measures: attendance, behavior, and three additional academic measures selected by each school (such as homework completion or grades).”

(New York City is piloting a particularly intriguing program that gives students access to a high-tech cell phone called the “Million.” From the Education Innovation Laboratory web site:

“The Million operates in two completely separate modes: School’s In and School’s Out. During school hours, the Million operates completely as a teaching tool. Outside school hours, it operates as a regular cell phone packed with great functions and benefits that teenagers covet.”)

I have no doubt that the strategies advocated by Education Innovation Laboratory are effective at helping kids complete more of their homework and earn higher grades. But as with most education reform measures, it starts with the wrong question in the first place. Since homework and grades are primarily measures of how well students follow directions, we’re essentially creating programs designed to produce graduates whose primary skill will be that of following directions.

This is another area in which scientific data is clear (see video below): offering extrinsic motivators (like money) will make students more compliant, but harms their ability to succeed at tasks that require higher-level thinking.

So while students may grow more adept at following directions, they’re less likely to learn to interpret directions and, perhaps most importantly, give directions.

* * *

Here’s a radical suggestion: rather than treating teenagers like a alien beings that need to be controlled by high tech devices and manipulated with extrinsic motivators, what if we simply made a commitment to showing them respect? What if we created environments in which we started by asking kids what their goals were, and listened to their answers without judgment?

 


You Might Also Like :

Back to Featured Articles on Logo Paperblog

These articles might interest you :

  • Customer Service Can Kill Your Customer’s Experience

    Customer Service Kill Your Customer’s Experience

    With the advent of the Internet, social media, and instant communication via texting, customer expectations for service, as part of their entire customer... Read more

    The 28 May 2017 by   Martin Zwilling
    BUSINESS, CAREER
  • Sunday Bliss Is..

    Sunday Bliss Is..

    ..preparing this mouth watering coffee crème fraîche cheesecake in this gorgeous kitchen. Join the Read more

    The 28 May 2017 by   Myparadissi
    HOME, INTERIOR DESIGN
  • “I Own My Life and I Have Decided to Live Long and Well!”

    A couple of months ago we wrote about Linda, her new type 2 diabetes diagnosis and the initial success with low carb. But that was just the beginning. This is... Read more

    The 28 May 2017 by   Dietdoctor
    DIET & WEIGHT, HEALTH, HEALTHY LIVING, MEDICINE
  • Beat the Press

    Beat Press

    Like many people, I’ve been re-reading 1984 and wondering what’s going on in a country I thought I knew. With clear evidence of wrong-doing on the part of the... Read more

    The 28 May 2017 by   Steveawiggins
    POLITICS, RELIGION, SOCIETY
  • Late May Update

    Late Update

    Apart from occasional successional sowings of salads, my sowing and planting for this year is mostly done. It's now time to sit back and watch things grow.... Read more

    The 28 May 2017 by   Mwillis
    GARDENING, HOME
  • If You Are Inviting Fat People to Your Event…

    Inviting People Your Event…

    This weekend there are tons of BBQ’s and such going on here in the states, but events and meetings happen every day. And every day, fat people are “invited” to... Read more

    The 28 May 2017 by   Danceswithfat
    DIET & WEIGHT, FITNESS, HEALTH
  • Mountain Berries & Desert Spice

    Mountain Berries Desert Spice

    Today I want to tell you about a beautifully evocative book that focuses exclusively on sweet inspirations from the Hunza Valley to the Arabian Sea, written by... Read more

    The 28 May 2017 by   Mariealicerayner
    FOOD & DRINK, RECIPES