Stickers, Stamps, Intrinsic Rewards and a Green Necklace

Many educators believe extrinsic rewards provide suitable means of motivation. Stickers, stamps, tokens and vouchers are the preferred currency of such classrooms. Numerous educators argue satisfaction and meaningful purpose are best achieved through intrinsic motivation. Fulfillment is achieved within these learning spaces through established pride and value in personal success and achievement. The instrinsic and extrinsic debate is ongoing and educators continually adapt to the behavioural demands and learning requirements of their students.

It would seem intrinsic and extrinsic approaches are at odds with each other. Recently; however, I witnessed the beautiful relationship between intrinsic and extrinsic rewards. They are not mutually exclusive but interdependent.

My daughter works hard at school and is determined to achieve her best. Often she comes home with a toy or something that she has chosen from a prize box. She accrued numerous points over a series of days and used her points toward selecting a present for her brother from the prize box. She brought the prize home and lovingly gave the present to her brother. He was extremely thankful for the green plastic necklace. It was expensive treasure in his eyes. He carried it around for hours and during the evenings it hangs from the bedroom door handle while he sleeps.

This little story provides a beautiful reminder that extrinsic rewards can fuel an intrinsic motivation and that a simple prize can be more far reaching than the teacher first imagined.


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