Because of the many problems associated with using rewards and punishments in the classroom, it becomes clear that neither rewarding nor punishing students offers teachers a management approach consistent with quality principles. The choice that so many educators face of whether to emphasize punishments or rewards in their classrooms is not really a choice at all. Both methods are extrinsic. Both seek to control the actions of students based on the promise that if you do this, this will happen to you, and, as a result, present a similar array of problems. Both rest on the assumptions of Theory X put forth by Douglas McGregor (described in Blog Post #5), and both exist because they are believed to be necessary to maintain order and effort.
In my most recent posts I have been talking about the choices we have available to us when it comes to managing our students. One choice is rooted in Douglas McGragorâ€™s Theory X (described in previous post) and requires the use of rewards and/or punishments to control student behavior and effort due to the belief that students dislike work and will avoid it if they can. The other choice is rooted in Theory Y and takes advantage of the idea that students want to work hard and will commit themselves fully to objectives that mean something to them.