My day job has me working with hundreds of educators. The ones I seem to have the best connection with are the ones that are the most — surprise — Old School. These are the teachers, principals and counselors that embody the most Old School values and common sense despite the ton of paperwork, testing and meaningless “hoops” through which today’s educators are made to jump.
Despite my Old School ways, I find myself needing a kick in the backside when I forget an Old School value like…
The Value of Rewards
Virtually every evening at our house we do what we call “Bible Time”. It’s about ten minutes of a Christian kid’s song, reading a creed (currently the Apostle’s Creed), a Bible passage reading and catechism questions for the boys. It’s with these questions that the boys can get reticent if not done right stubborn.
That was the case last night and I remembered something my pastor’s wife, Lacey, told me. “I reward (read that as: bribe) the children with candy when they get an answer right.”
I decided to try that. I told five year old Junior, “If you get fifteen out of twenty-two right you will get a piece of candy.”
I start asking the questions. Suddenly my boy becomes Martin Luther meets Rain Man. His answers were immediate and delivered with a heretofore unseen certainty that bordered on the adamant. If he was any more adamant, the exchanges would have gone like this.
Me: Question #17: Of what were our first parents made?
Junior: God made the body of Adam out of the ground, and formed Eve from the body of Adam, punk.
The few times he hesitated I’d jump start his response with a preposition or two from the answer and he’d nail it asap. He didn’t get fifteen out of twenty-two. He got twenty-one. Score!
I’m sure some people would say that rewarding, bribing — whatever — kids with candy is a wrong-headed shortcut. I call these people “childless”. For the rest of us, this solution rocks.
Moral of the story
It’s easy to get caught up in the challenges of life and forget that a very Old School solution is just sitting out there waiting for you to grab it and make everything much easier. In my case, it was a Snickers bar.