Several weeks ago, the superintendent asked me to help my students set goals for their state assessments because our school as a whole never scores well. She said that she would think of some reward for students that meet their goals. She decided that for every test where the student meets their goals, they would get a scoop of ice cream and some kind of topping. Since my students take four tests, that meant some of them got up to four scoops and four different toppings.
The kindergarten only takes two tests so they only got two scoops of ice cream and only two toppings. But my students were very quick to pick up on the fact that their four scoops were equal to the kindergarten’s two scoops. I had to listen to several complaints.
The ice cream celebration really made me realize how greedy kids are these days. They got ice cream with many delicious choices of toppings and they still were not happy. I have noticed that happening in my classroom as well. I really do not give out many rewards but when I do, there is a lot of complaining. I am not sure what will make the students happy but I really do not care. I do not give out many rewards so that should make the students happy that they got something at all. I am not going to spend my personal money to give them something that will only make them happy for a few minutes (or not at all). My prize box is filled with McDonalds toys and other small things that I would have been thrilled to get as a child. Instead, when a student earns the prize box, I get complaints that there is nothing good in the box.
When I was a kid, I remember being pleased if I got the smallest of prizes. I was so happy when I got a marker that I brought it back and forth from home to school everyday because it was so special to me. I never got rewards for my state testing and yet I still did my best. I remember maybe getting a mint or a number two pencil right before the test to help us do well and that was good enough for me.
Today, kids demand so much. They want the latest cell phones and video game systems and iPads. Kids have televisions in their room and their own personal laptops. I did not get my first cell phone until I went to college and it was an old phone of my dad’s (I did not even have texting). I went to college with a large (and very old) desk top computer. I got my own TV when I moved to my first apartment. I do not have a television in my bedroom. Right now, I do not have my own laptop or iPad. They belong to the school. And I still do not have a high quality phone (but I can at least text).
Parents need to step up and teach their kids to be grateful for what they have and teach them the value of hard work. Parents should not give in to their children’s every demands either. I cannot imagine what the future will be like with these kind of kids in charge.