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News Pay me to educate myself

  1. Oct 13, 2009 #1

    Ok so am I the only one who feels that the elevator doesn't go all the way to the top over in France? Or at least for the educators who implemented this system? Anyone?

    It's not enough that you're going to school so that you can function in society, choose a vocation, and otherwise survive in society.. nahh.. Teach I'm going to need at least a HUNDO in my BANK ACCOUNT to read that eassay on world war II and do the assignment.

    Just when you thought public schooling was at it's pinnacle,

    Anyone in favor of this system? if so why?
    Last edited: Oct 13, 2009
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  3. Oct 13, 2009 #2


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    Did you read this part?
    Meaning the system is still quite different from the ones used in the US and UK (where, as far I understand, the student simply get money in their pockets).

    Whether or not I am in favour of it depends on if it works. If it keep students in school and make them more interested in learning then why not?

    "Incentive" schemes tend to be very efficient even when you are paying someone to do something that will benefit THEM (as well as society as a whole) in the long run. A somewhat extreme example is paying drug addicts not to use drugs, even if you only offer them a small reward every time they pass a drug test it is often a much more successful method than simply trying to persuade them that it is in their own best interest not to use drugs.
    We humans are quite weird creatures.
  4. Oct 13, 2009 #3
    Someone already thought of that
  5. Oct 13, 2009 #4
    I don't know.. my thoght is that if you have to bribe a child to study, their study habits will only last as long as the checkbook holds out. Plus it sends kids the wrong message. I think going to school to educate yourself so you can provide for yourself and not starve to death is sufficient incentive to go to school. Once you slide down that slippery slope you have children "going on strike" and asking for a "raise", etc. It doesn't matter that the funds are used for educational purposes. The public school systems are finacially burdened as it is.

    I guess I just see enducation as it's own instrinsic value. Putting a price tag on learning is like selling air (oh wait they already do that right?) Children do poorly for various reasons. If someone's not capable of doing the work, no amount of money will motivate them. If they are motivated by money, and not the simple future value a degree has, it says to me that if you give them incentive the second you remove that incentive, the grades drop again. Paying a child doesn't fix the root behavior, it simply puts a band aid on a gunshot wound.

    The better move here is to educate child about the consequences of thier inaction, and lack of future education. Take them to a homeless shelter, take them to burger kng and put them to work scrubbing toilets, or just drop them in a scary place and wish them good luck. Let them think they are completely on thier own.

    Reality cures stupidity with extreme prejudice. That's the best teaching tool. Bribery fixes nothing.
  6. Oct 14, 2009 #5
    If it helps student from dropping out of school, living on welfare (etc) for their entire lives, get involved in the crimes, and becoming a drug addict, I would favor it. In the long run, the benefits are more than the costs involved.

    One of my university professor decided to offer cake slices to anyone who finishes and hands in problem to him first. The participation rate was much higher.
    Last edited: Oct 14, 2009
  7. Oct 14, 2009 #6
    Therein lies the problem. I'd like to see a study down the road on the success rate of students in this program. Presumably this kind of thing is targeted at a certain type of certain. I'd be curious to see if it would have any long term effects. I'm skeptical.

    But I think the point still persists that if we're at the point that we're motivating children with monetary gain. It shows as a society that we'll do anything to (temporarily) motivate children. It's a bad lesson in morality, and it just says that everything and everyone can be bought and has a cash price. Very troubling.

    I think that his is just a sign of the times.. it's a byproduct of "the rudy syndrome":


    I think a lot of kids today are taking the path of least resistance and coasting through life becuase they simply can.
  8. Oct 14, 2009 #7


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    As far as I know these programs tend to be quite succesful (the the example with drug addicts above). Also, once someone graduates and has managed to get a job as a result of that education, does it really matter WHY they studied in the first place?

    I don't think there is anything new here. A very proportion of people decide what to study based on how much money they expect to make after they graduate (how many people that get MBAs are really interested in the topic?). I even have friends who got a PhD in physics who were never really intersted in their research, their long term was to get a job in the financial sector (not that they were interested in that either, it just pays well).
    So the only difference here is that these student have a short-term as well as a long term goal.
    Also, how many adults would go to work everyday if they did not get a salary?

    Sorry, but I must say I think you are being a bit naive. There are people who's prime motivation is not money (I am a post-doc in physics, so I guess I'm one of them) but I'd say that for the wast majority of people money (and perhaps fame) are the two most important drivers when it comes to education and career choice.
  9. Oct 14, 2009 #8
  10. Oct 14, 2009 #9


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    If you feel a person has to earn his way into a society and should be grateful to be accepted, then this is a really dumb idea. If society can train its residents to feel this way - that society's needs matter more than their own - then society has obtained some very cheap and loyal labor that benefits .....? (likewise, if a political party can train its members to adopt the 'team' attitude no matter what, the party has obtained a very loyal, unthinking member that can be easily manipulated)

    Obviously, the individual does benefit from society since it should be easier for him to maintain his health, raise his family, etc. Which raises the question:

    Who benefits when you choose to bring a family of kids into the world? Is bringing kids into the world yours and society's gift to them and they should gratefully endure years of servitude? Or are kids brought into the world in order to benefit society? That they're an investment in our future that we ought to pay for? And we gleefully cheat on our investment because they're too naive to know the difference?

    Society is investing in kids, and having them attain an education that will make them into a more valuable member of society benefits society every bit as much as the individual gains a benefit from society. Not paying kids for school is worse than child labor - at least a manufacturer would pay them something for their time.

    That is, it would be worse if they weren't paid something. Actually, they are, since they're still in a phase where adults have to provide for their every need. That's really the only saving grace - that adults do pay children for the things adults ask children to do.

    The only real issue is whether cash payments from the school have increased pay to children too high, whether it's still too low, or whether it's just about right. Considering the payments are focused on lower income schools where children are less likely to receive as many benefits from their parents as others, the cash payments probably aren't raising the costs too high.

    Edit: You could definitely raise the same issue about NCAA athletes. The star athletes in major sports are being robbed blind by having to serve a number of years in the NCAA, working for free, just so other less talented athletes in unpopular sports have a chance to compete. Did Shaq's college degree gain him a higher post education salary than someone like Kobe Bryant, who was able to escape servitude in the NCAA?

    Edit: Off topic, but I'm also of the opinion that failing to have the elevator go all the way to the top is unfair, as well. The fitness benefits of having to walk up the final couple flights are going to those that can afford gym memberships. It would be more fair to fail to have the elevator reach the bottom so all classes of workers could share the same fitness benefits.
    Last edited: Oct 14, 2009
  11. Oct 15, 2009 #10
    So what you're essentially saying is that it's niave to expect someone to educate themselves in order to learn to read and not solely based on monetary gain? I"m well aware of the realities of society, and while it's a necessary evil, there's a difference between accepting the motivations and celebrating them. How about some perspective. Yes there are tons of adults who pursue an education- right up through MBA'S PhD's, Lawyers and doctors where the single motivation is cash. If they could make $150/HOUR as a prostitute and not face social stigma, many would probably choose that. Whatever makes the buck- it's the American dream. BUT of those people who pursue an education based on cash, what percentage are remotely happy? Most probably even passed over thier true passion jjust because it didn't pay enough money? Message to the kids: forget happiness: be RICH!

    Why stop at a few bucks? Why not just guarantee $100K waiting for anyone who finishes high school? Add in a brand new car while we're at it? There has to be a cost benefit for it to make sense- proven results that justify the cost, IMHO.

    Also, how are we paying for these programs? inner city schools can barely afford books and basic supplies, so where does the cash come from? Oh wait, what's ANOTHER trillion- we're in this far anyhow..

    Let's go back to root cause.. a child that can be motivated to study simply by money has deeper character issues. Maybe there's moral and parenting issues there. Children learn what they are taught, and if they are taught that money is the only thing that matters in the world, then thier behavior will reflect that. Or maybe the kid's family just has financial troubles and they think they need the money.

    Where you see naivite I see idealism.. where you see motivation I see unacceptable comprimise. Lines are drawn every day, then redrawn, and the line between motivational tool and 'bribe' is pretty thin here.

    My goal here isn't to incite but to reflect...

    I guess Gordon Gecko was right

    "greed is good"

    My point here is that the key is BALANCE. Money makes the world go round, but it doesn't give you happiness, personal satisfaction, or emotional comfort. I'm sure for every example of someone who chose a path based on money, can name 10 who chose a vocation based on something other than money.. how about..


    I guess it depends on what you want out of life.

    And I think that people didn't NEED to work, they would do what makes them happy- it would be a golden age of arts and science- creativity would skyrocket.
    Last edited: Oct 15, 2009
  12. Oct 15, 2009 #11


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    If everyone did what made them happy, a few would still do difficult things like good art and science. Most would do easy, pleasurable things like sex and food all day. Maybe some of the guys would take a break to play a few video games. Maybe the gals would take a break to watch Oprah.

    The harder it is to find someone willing and capable of doing something, the more those people are going to get paid. That's because society needs more people to do difficult things than there are available. You may be right that a person who takes a career just because of the money won't find true happiness, but that person's unhappiness is still good for society.

    I'm not sure a person doing things just for the money would be all that unhappy, either. Providing security for your spouse and family can give a person enough pleasure that they take on the highest job they're capable of taking on regardless of how much fun it is. How many garbagemen see their job as the route to their dreams in the sense of, "I may just be a garbageman today, but someday I'm going to own my own garbage truck." They may very well see their job as the route to their dreams in the sense of, "I realize Tiny Tim can't walk without his cane right now, honey, but we have good medical insurance and they'll find a cure for him!"

    Yes, kids getting their first cruddy job buy silly things with their first paycheck. One other perk most kids find valuable is the first few times they can buy family members holiday and birthday gifts. There is some real value in money that makes sacrifice worth it.

    It's not just a black and white issue of pursue your true passion or buy lots of worthless trinkets.

    Real, meaningful secondary pleasures mean there's always someone willing, so it's pretty cheap to find garbagemen. It's not so easy to find someone willing to learn how to do the difficult things in life when the benefits are far in the future and people you're asking are too immature to see into the future.

    Regardless of whether a person is a "prostitute" that does something solely for money when what they're doing should be meaningful and enjoyable, having that person do that job for any reason is good for society; it's not immoral since the person gains some meaningful secondary benefits; and there's nothing wrong with paying students to learn if it provides more skilled workers for the future.
    Last edited: Oct 15, 2009
  13. Oct 30, 2009 #12


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    It sounds like a pretty good plan to me. It isn't funding anything that kids in wealthy school districts in the US wouldn't get without any performance expectations, so if anything, this program seems to be making the students actually work for their "treats." As the article clearly stated, this isn't money being handed to the students, it's money that goes into a class fund if the class meets performance goals. Sounds better than sending the kids out door to door trying to sell popcorn and cookie dough and gift wrap to fund class trips, especially if they live in a neighborhood where nobody can afford to spend $15 on a tin of popcorn.

    The money goes back to fund educational activities. I think that's the key. It basically says that if you work really hard and are a good class (puts peer pressure on the whole class to do well, not just rely on a few good students), they'll fund some more fun activities to enhance their educational opportunities. And, it means all the kids who have worked hard can participate in those extra activities, not just those whose parents can afford the cost of the trip.

    How is this fundamentally different from a scholarship opportunity? If you do really well in secondary school, someone will give you money to pay for university.

    In fact, in some situations (in US more than France perhaps), I would even argue it would make sense to pay the students directly if they keep their grades high. For example, in areas with high poverty rates, there are often high drop-out rates as kids are forced into a choice between getting a job to help put food on the table for their family vs. attending school. The immediate need outweighs the long-term benefits...it doesn't mean anything that you can earn more and support yourself more easily if you have a high school diploma if you don't have food, clothing and shelter to survive and complete high school. So, give those kids the incentive to stay in school and do well by providing some financial incentive for good academic performance so a good student doesn't have to choose between school and work.
  14. Oct 30, 2009 #13
    I think a crucial aspect must be re-emphasized : this program is not available for everybody, it is targeted to "disadvantaged" schools. The idea is simple : there are schools where kids can afford books, and there are schools where kids can not, and those crazy socialist french people think it is not fair.
  15. Oct 31, 2009 #14
    Couple of points.

    First to the above. If these funds are targeted at disadvantaged school districts (students should be provided books and materials by the school- hence a free public education) then shouldn't the funds go directly to buying the books instead of into these programs? Or how about to programs that also provide intagible benefits- trips to the science center, Art Gallery or other inspirational places ? While I do think it's a good idea to motivate children, It's better to inspire children to see the intagible benenfits of an education first, and THEN look towards the tangible. At least that's what I would aim for if I were a teacher. There's fine line between teaching children that education = money, and handing them the money in order to make them learn. Fundamentally they learn that they shouldn't learn anything for the instrinsic value, because it's not profitable. then you take the future scientists, firefighters, and creative minds and turn them into lawyers and investment bankers, because who wants to be poor, right? Now the intagible benefits may seem obvious to you and I, but not to an 8th grader or a lot of teenagers who might otherwise be inspired.

    And as far as people not doing the hard jobs in a perfect world- I don't think that would happen. Some people deliberately choose dificult vocations because they enjoy a challenge. I think a lot of people who are doctors and scientists and engineers would still be those things in a Utopian society because many people actually choose a vocation because it interests and inspires them-and it has nothing to do with money.

    Again, I'm not saying the program won't work. My point is simply that greed may work as a motivator, but that doesn't make it the right message to send to impressionable kids.

    Imagine if Einstein had decided to be a lawyer, because it pays more than clerking.
  16. Nov 2, 2009 #15
    This is a great point, their should be a standard by which a driven student can move ahead of his peers if he shows special prowess or extra drive. Too much attention is given to ensuring that all the students pass their studies at the expense of students trying to do well. This may seem unfair to those who do poorly, but if they try harder we should have a system in place to help them rise up based on the efforts.
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