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Regularly using sweets as a routine incentive/reward in lessons

Discussion in 'Behaviour' started by mature_maths_trainee, Sep 14, 2012.

  1. mature_maths_trainee

    mature_maths_trainee New commenter

    [soapbox at the ready :) ]

    This so obviously seems to be bad practice I'm astonished that school leaders still permit it to be used.
    Aren't the arguements that:
    i) by allowing, or having, some teachers use sweets (admittedly a highly desirable reward), it causes problems for all the other teachers in that they they then struggle to offer a sufficiently desirable rewards. i.e. I think it's extremely selfish of teachers to use such rewards, because of the problems it then causes other teachers. It may motivate students to do well in your class, but what does it do to that child's education more broadly?
    ii) directly and explicitly associating eating sweets, or eating anything, with 'success' achieved in life is surely a poor association to promote (e.g. how can the practice be sustained in so-called 'Healthy Schools'). Could it not so obviously contribute to teenage eating disorders?
    iii) it is well established that such explicit, routine rewards deteriorate in effectiveness over time, and lead to 'reward inflation' (the need to provide bigger and bigger rewards, and the need to reward even the most routinely expected behaviours) - hence such rewards have long-term detrimental effects
    ...rather overwhelming?
    Rather than being proud of using such incentives, I think more teachers should be educated to understand its overwhelming (albeit, far less visible) negative consequences.
    [off soapbox :) ]

  2. Absolutely agree!
    I have a little treasure box but it contains pencils, fluffy pens, rubbers, little notebooks...so cheap and they children earn them by writing their intial on a 100 square. When the 100 square is full I pick out several numbers and they get a pick out of the treasure. I am thinking of starting tokens soon. Just workiing on some. Things like 'first in the line', 'helper for the day' 'sent to head teacher' etc.
    Sweets rot teeth and I used to get mad when my children were at school and they were given sweets. I let my children have sweets but it was always part of a meal.
  3. I wouldn't use sweets for the reasons you gave but wonder what you think about sweets being used in otherways?
    When I was at school I remember sorting (then eating) smarties to do with data handling. I also had a teacher at Secondary who on the last day of term would give out sweets throughout the lesson -he didn't stop teaching just because it was the last day of term but he did smile more, make more jokes and give out sweets (jelly babies were his favourite). When teaching Romans we had a Saturnalia festival and along with various fruits I gave the children chocolate mice (as the Romans ate dormice).
  4. jubilee

    jubilee Star commenter

    I was once at a school where SMT curried favour by handing out chocolate bars in assembly to entire year groups, based on supposedly good work in tests etc. Those who had done badly in the tests were still rewarded with the chocs as it was deemed a team effort that the year group were doing better than expected. They'd then traipse to their next lesson eating their chosen bar and littering the corridor as they went.
    You've guessed it; staff would be regularly told to be more vigilant about the terrible litter problem inside the buildings and outside ... and to promote healthy eating in an increasingly weighty cohort of pupils. They spent £5k per year on a special fluid to remove chewing gum from carpets.
    Teachers make a rod for their own back when they routinely dole out sweets for expected work being done and they most certainly make things extra difficult for colleagues who are not prepared to be involved in the dubious practice.
    I'll admit to having started my career having sweets as prizes for the ubiquitous games we were trained to deliver in MFL. I soon saw the bankruptcy of the system and stopped spending a portion of my earnings on buying sweets for children who already had pockets full of sugary snacks. I saw the time-wasting of the games too. Also, once the sweets were not on offer, many pupils were unco-operative over taking part in the games!
    Teachers are being prepared by the Unions for Working To Rule, by not volunteering to do clubs or going on school trips etc. It's all part of a protest over the declining value of pay after 2 years of pay freeze, to be followed by a 1% pay rise in 2013. It's ridiculous to be frustrated about pay and then to use your taxed money to buy classroom resources and unnecessary treats for the pupils.
    There will be pupils who treat you to something at Xmas or at the end of the school year. Reciprocate once at a time of your choosing in the school year but any other treats should be abandoned or funded by school if SMT want to see regular rewards doled out.
  5. mature_maths_trainee

    mature_maths_trainee New commenter

    Yes Jubilee, I think you've expressed another good aspect of the arguement.
    You've made me realise that another great benefit of putting 'rewards' back firmly in the hands of the school itself is that SLT will then be forced to think about its effectiveness on a whole-school basis. Much of it, or at least many of the types of rewards currently given, would be dropped. I'm afraid the problem really is, in this instance, well-meaning but ultimately selfish/niaive teachers.
  6. shamsh

    shamsh Occasional commenter

    I agree that handing out sweets as rewards has many negative points, especially when I see pupils' bags full of chocolate, crisps, "energy" drinks/ fizzy additive packed rubbish that they've bought on their way to school to avoid having to eat anything even vaguely healthy from school. I have also taught quite a few students whose behaviour was noticeably worse when on a sugar fuelled high.

    Surely genuine, honest, justified praise is far more valuable to students ( and staff) than sweets........
  7. Many students with lower attainment and who suffer maths anxiety have learned to hate even the idea of maths lessons. There is an Arab saying that you greet people with something sweet... and if you can take the sting out of maths lessons even slightly by offering the little bunnies a lolly, well, I don't need to explain the rest do I? Not to a Mature Trainee.
    Our students need to feel valued, and invested in. A lolly goes a long way to doing that without alienating the student who is too cool for merits, and to be frank, the sweeties have to be distributed in such a way that they are not seen as patronising or coercive, so not all of us can pull it off. The trick further is to not hand them out every lesson.
    Try it, then criticize it.
  8. jubilee

    jubilee Star commenter

    So we have to develop skills in how to distribute sweets now! Do OFSTED judge teachers on their diplomacy in sweetie distribution?
    Issue sweets in learning time, especially lollies that take ages to eat and tend to leave pupils sticky fingered and book pages stuck together, and you reduce their learning time, affect their concentration and ruin their teeth.
    I cringe when I see pupils walking around school with lollies and am even more bothered when I see children in pushchairs sucking on them. They're virtually pure sugar. Mine had lollies as treats at home and brushed their teeth straightaway afterwards.
    SMT could do with ditching various edicts for teachers but should ban sweets as rewards/incentives in lessons, allowing end of term treats only.

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