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Harvard Working Paper Dec reward_motivation FINAL Dec 2018.pdf

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This is an interesting paper...but not brave enough.

I remember entering medical school and in one of our first lectures the professor said that we would learn a lot over 4 years...and that probably about 50% of it would be wrong.... and the challenge is that we wouldn't know which 50% - because our understanding of the human body is constantly growing.  And I look back, and don't think it is quite 50% - yet...but there are a lot of things that were "standard" treatments that are now clearly not appropriate.

I believe that our general frame around motivation is also off kilter and that there is plenty of evidence now that especially at school the use of rewards is actually counterproductive and that they decrease motivation. We can/should do away with them and any kind of public charting system. This is particularly true for students with significant adverse experiences.  And still we struggle to let go of this very North American cultural artifact.

It is scary - and yet our experience working with brave teachers who use relationships and skill building instead of positive and negative "incentives" has been insightful, eye-opening and shown some dramatic changes in both behavior and academic learning.

 

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