Tighter Control: The Case of Special Education
"How'm I Doin'?"
9 BRIBES FOR BEIIAVING: WHYBEIIAVIORISM DOESN'T HELP CHILDRENBECOME GOOD PEOPLE ~
The Price of ObediencePunishing ChildrenThe Consequences of "Consequences""And If You're Good..."
I O THANK GOD IT'S MONDAY~ THE ROOTS OF
MOTIVATION IN THE WORKPLACE ~
Step One: Abolish IncentivesStep Two: Reevaluate EvaluationStep Three: Create the Conditions for Authentic MotivationC ollaborationContentChoice
ll HOOKED ON LEARNING: THE ROOTS OF MOTIVATION IN THE
Remove the RewardsNeed We Grade~The Straight-A Student: A Cautionary TaleFrom Degrading to De-Grading
Learning as DiscoveryThe Three C's AgainCollaboration: Learning TogetherContent: Things Worth KnowingChoice: Autonomy in the Classroom
12 Gc")OD KIDS WITHOUT G(.)ODIES ~
Beyond ControlSolving Problems: Return of the Three C'sCaring KidsThe Role of the SchoolsThe Chance to ChooseDegrees of FreedomBarriers to ChoiceFreedom from Rewards
Appendix A: A Conversation with B. F. Skinner
Appendix B: What Is Intrinsic Motivation? ~
Appendix C: The Behaviorists Talk Back ~
Name Index ~
Subject Index ~
I came very close to failing Introduction to Psychology, This wasat a school, you should understand, where the wordpsycholog\.,'meant "the experimental study of animal physiology andbehavior," and the only thing we students were required to do,apart from sitting through lectures, was to train caged rats to pressa little bar. We reinforced them with Rice Krispies for doing this,and since they had been starved to 80 percent of normal bodyweight, they would have done almost anything for a little cereal.
I was successful, then, in carrying out the assignment, but lesssuccessful in figuring out the reason I was doing it. In a rathersophomoric act of rebellion (which was only appropriate given thatI was in my second year of college at the time), I turned in a labreport written from the rat's point of view, The report describedhow, merely by pressing a bar, it had trained a college student to
engage in breakfast-feeding behavior ~ The instructor was notamused, and as I say, I barely passed the course But that didn'tstop me from immediately writing a parody of a psychologyjournal article for the school paper. I had the article's authorclaiming a 100 percent success rate in conditioning his rats toavoid pressing Lever B (which caused a three-hundred-pound anvilto drop suddenly from the top of the cage), proudly noting that nota single rat had touched that lever more than once
In retrospect, I think it can fairly be said that I did not take well
to behaviorism when first introduced to it. Nor did it grow on me
as the years went by. By the time I had moved to Cambridge, home
of B. F. Skinner, I decided it was time to ask him some of the
questions that I had furiously scrawled in my copies of his books. I
invited him to come speak to a class I was teaching and, to my
surprise, he agreed and even gamely smiled for the Instamatics
held by awed students.
A few months later I hit on the idea of writing a profile ofProfessor Skinner for a magazine, which gave me the opportunityto interview him twice more. In these sessions he patientlyanswered all my questions I found myself admiring the fact that while his age had dulled his eyesight and hearing, it had not muted his evangelical fervor for behaviorism. (Excerpts from those interviews are reprinted in Appendix A of this book )
Eventually } recovered from my preoccupation with Skinner'sideas, but then only to become increasingly concerned about the popular version of behaviorism, whereby we try to solve problems by offering people a goody if they do what we want, When, forexample, I began to discover in my researches an extensivecollection of evidence demonstrating that competition holds us back from doing our best work, it soon became clear that one ofthe reasons for its surprising failure is its status as an extrinsic motivator-a Rice Krispie, if you will, Later, investigating the question of altruism, }found studies showing that rewarding children for their generosity is a spectacularly unsuccessful way of promoting that quality.
Gradually it began to dawn on me that our society is caught in a whopping paradox. We complain loudly about such things as the sagging productivity of our workplaces, the crisis of our schools,and the warped values of our children But the very strategy we use to solve those problems-dangling rewards like incentive plans and grades and candy bars in front of people-is partly responsible for the fix we're in. We are a society of loyal Skinnerians, unable to think our way out of the box we have reinforced ourselves into
I headed back to the libraries and found scores of studies documenting the failure of pop behaviorism, studies whos eexistence remains unknown to all but a few social psychologists.No wonder there had never been a book written for a general audience that showed how rewards undermine our efforts to teach students or manage workers or raise children-much less a broader critique that looked at all three arenas This is what I set out to write, well aware that such a challenge to conventional thinking would be even more unsettling than a lab report written from the rat's perspective,
Of this book's twelve chapters, the first six lay out the central
argument. Chapter 1 briefly reviews the behaviorist tradition, the
prevalence of pop behaviorism in our society, and some reasons
for its widespread acceptance Chapter 2 weighs arguments about
the intrinsic desirability of rewarding people, first challenging the
claim that doing so is morally or logically required, and then
proposing that there is actually something objectionable about the
Chapter 3 moves from philosophical arguments to practicalconsequences, summarizing the research evidence showing thatrewards simply do not work to promote lasting behavior change orto enhance performance; in fact, they often make things worse,Then, in chapters 4 and 5, I explain why this is true, offering fivekey reasons for the failure of rewards, all of which amount toserious criticisms of the practice apart from their effects onperformance, Chapter 6 examines one particular reward that few ofus would ever think to criticize: praise
The second half of the book examines the effect of rewards,and alternatives to them, with respect to the three issues I'vementioned: employees' performance, students learning, andchildren's behavior. This part of the book is arranged so thatreaders primarily interested in only one of these topics won't haveto wade through discussions of the other two. Workplace issues arediscussed in chapters 7 and 10, educational issues in chapters 8 and11, and the question of children's behavior and values (which isrelevant to teachers as well as parents) in chapters 9 and 12.Serious readers will find that the endnotes provide not onlycitations for the studies and quotations but additional thoughts,qualifications, and discussion of the issues raised in the text.
Because this project is both ambitious and controversial, the onlysensible thing to do at this point is try to place some of the blamefor my conclusions on the people who helped me, I was firstintroduced to research on the detrimental effects of rewards(particularly with respect to creativity ) by Teresa Amabile, Myviews on raising and teaching children have been mightilyinfluenced by the wisdom of Eric Schaps and Marilyn Watson }continue to take advantage of every chance I get to exchange ideaswith these three people, all of whom I consider friends
1 have also spent hours badgering a number of other writers andresearchers, picking their brains, challenging their ideas andinviting them to reciprocate. For some reason they agreed to this,even though most of them didn't know me, I'm very grateful toRich Ryan, Barry Schwal'tz, John Nicholls, Ed Deci, Mark Lepper,Carole Ames, and the late B. F, Skinner (who, of course, wouldhave been appalled by the result). Friends who have pressed me to
think harder about these issues over the years include Lisa Lahey,
Fred Hapgood, Sarah Wernick, and Alisa Harrigan,
An entirely different commitment of time and energy wasinvolved in reading and criticizing drafts of my chapters. Hereprofuse thanks are due to Eric Schaps, Teresa Amabile, AlisaHarrigan, Phil Korman, John Nicholls, Carole Ames, Ed Deci, andmost of all, to three people who took the time to read virtually theentire manuscript, offering one incisive comment after another:Barry Schwartz, Rich Ryan, and Bill Greene. Bill, who has donethis for me four times now, has long since gone beyond the call ofduty or friendship. Actually, you ought to be thanking him since hehas spared you from having to read my first drafts
Finally, let me acknowledge the assistance and supportprovided by Ruth Hapgood and Betsy Lerner, my editors, and JohnWare, my agent, as well as all the people who. having heard mespeak about rewards, asked hard questions that forced me torethink my critique, refine my presentation, and reconsider theevidence They've done me a great service by challenging some ofmy assumptions I hope I can return the favor,
1. SKINNER-BOXED: The Legacy of
For the anthropomorphic view of the rat, American psychology substituted a rattomorphicview of man.
Arthur Koestler, //,e Act of Creatton
THF:~ IS A T~ to admire the grace and persuasive power of an influential idea, and there is a time to fear its hold over us The time to worry is when the idea is so widely shared that we no longer even notice it, when it is so deeply rooted that it feels to uslike plain common sense. At the point when objections are not answered anymore because they are no longer even raised, we are not in control: we do not have the idea~ it has us
This book is about an idea that has attained just such a status in
our society, The idea is that the best way to get something done is
to provide a reward to people when they act the way we want them
to Scholars have debated the meaning and traced the development
of the intellectual tradition known as behaviorism. What interests
me, though, is the popular (or pop) incarnation of this doctrine, the
version that lives in our collective consciousness and affects what
we do every day.
The core of pop behaviorism is "Do this and you'll get that "
The wisdom of this technique is very rarely held up for inspection;,
all that is open to question is what exactly people will receive and
under what circumstances it will be promised and delivered We
take for granted that this is the logical way to raise children, teach
students, and manage employees We promise bubble gum to a
five-year-old if he keeps quiet in the supermarket, We dangle an A
before a teenager to get her to study harder. We hold out the
possibility of a Hawaiian vacation for a salesman who sells enough
of the company's product.
It will not take more than a few paragraphs to make the casethat we are deeply committed to this way of thinking and behavingBut my aim is considerably more ambitious I want to argue thatthere is something profoundly wrong-headed about thisdoctrine-that its assumptions are misleading and the practices itgenerates are both intrinsically objectionable andcounterproductive, This last contention in particular, that from apurely pragmatic point of view pop behaviorism usually fails toproduce the consequences we intended, takes up most of the pagesthat follow.
To offer such an indictment is not to suggest that there is
something wrong with most of the things that are used as rewards
It is not bubble gum itself that is the problem, nor money, nor love
and attention. The rewards themselves are in some cases innocuous
and in other cases indispensable What concerns me is the practice
of using these things as rewards To take what people want or need
and offer it on a contingent basis in order to control how they
act-this is where the trouble lies Our attention is properly
focused, in other words, not on "that" (the thing desired) but on the
requirement that one must do this in order to get that.
My premise here is that rewarding people for their complianceis not "the way the world works," as many insist, It is not afundamental law of human nature, It is but one way of thinkingand speaking, of organizing our experience and dealing withothers It may seem natural to us, but it actually reflects a particularideology that can be questioned. I believe that it is long past time
I see an unfinished file when I turn on the pc - it reminds me of maslow and his journal that was published after he died.
"keep a journal" - my thought for teens or anyone who wants to / needs to make a difference in the world.