Sunday, January 23, 2011

"That's a Bribe."

Since the beginning of the school year I have told my students (Grade 9) that I do not give rewards (bribes) for learning. I tell them that I do not give rewards when they finish or promise to give something when they finish. When I notice students not interested in the task assigned, I know that I have to approach the learning outcome differently. However, I have to watch how I ask students to do the task because some listen very attentively.

What do I mean by that? At times I will say, “It’s almost time to go now. Please put your chairs on your table and then we can get back to the video.” (At the end of the school day sometimes we watch a couple of funny videos on youtube). When I say such things I have one student who always notices the language I use. Donald, not his real name, says, “That’s a bribe.” I laugh and say, “That’s right, Donald, I should not have said it that way.” I should have said, “Put your chairs up on your tables please.” That way the students are not doing the task for a reward, the video, but doing it because I asked and they know it helps the custodians.

Donald has pointed out to me on several occasions that how I am asking is a bribe. He has challenged me to ask differently from what I want of students through his statement, “That’s a bribe.”


  1. I am 100% with you in regards to rewards and bribes. However, I'm looking at your words a little differently than Donald. I think you used an enforceable statement. That's a Love & Logic term for statement you can enforce. You were telling the students that you would continue the video when their chairs were up. Other examples: I'll be glad to allow groups to continue working together when the noise level is lower; I'll listen as soon as your voice is calm; or I call on students who raise their hands.

  2. I agree with your examples. I do differentiate your examples with what I said. Regardless, I believe we are on the same page.

  3. Funny post

    Shared it with one of my colleagues who looked at me and, focussing upon the intent behind your request, comically paraphrased John Cleese: Judean's People Front or People's Front of Judea!

    We should all be so lucky in creating a democratic classroom like yours where students like Donald can feel secure in thoughtfully challenging authority.