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Should we provide wages to students to attend high school?

In order to improve graduation rates, improve discipline in the class room, provide enjoyment, and the best bang for the buck from a small stimulus package suppose we pay high school students a “wage” for attending class. The catch is, though, to collect your weekly wage you need two things: 1) Perfect attendance for the week, 2) No in school or out of school suspensions.

If they pass an economic and health test e.g. know types of loans especially home loans and pay day loans, the insidious nature of credit cards, what is good nutrition, especially the dangers of sugar and cigarettes, they get a bonus of $50.

I recommend a wage of $25/week. For a 40 week year the student with perfect attendance (sick days validated by a doctor are acceptable) would get $1000. Maximum cost: about $14.5 billion/year. That’s assuming perfect attendance for the entire year by every student.

Giving the kids a little spending money would provide significant multiplier effects because most kids, unlike the big banks, will actually spend the money. We should see an increase in consumerism because the steady “employment” will be a continuous revenue stream for the kids.

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    Feb 5 2012: An interesting idea. As a school leader I feel strongly that we should ignite the intrinsic motivation in students to help them establish the joy in learning as its own reward. Not only would I not advocate paying them but I would go as far to say that all rewards related to money or the acquisition of material goods should be ruled out in schools. I appreciate the idea of offering incentives to avoid temptations but ultimately schools are attempting to triumph with the pre-frontal cortex over the limbic system; they often fail unless they recognize just how difficult it is for (particularly teenagers ) to stay engaged in learning.
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      Feb 8 2012: Perfect reasoning, in my opinion, and I'll share two questions that popped in my head while reading.

      If we actually paid students, wouldn't it cause in fact aversion to learning (like transforming it in a necessary evil)?

      If we teach kids that the result of being at school is money and not knowledge itself, wouldn't we create a situation in which those kids would never accept to learn anything without money gratification?

      For me, those two questions are answered with "yes" and bring a glimpse at the edge of doom.
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    Feb 8 2012: I do think they need an incentive, but not an immediate financial one. The problem with education these days is that the students don't see the point in studying what they're studying, because nobody's bothered to tell them what the real life possible applications of this knowledge could be. Personally, I'm all in favour of a more hands-on experience in education. In Spain, if you go to a trainee hairdresser and not a professional, they charge you a quarter of the price and generally do a very good job. If you can't afford a professional chiropodist, people go to the university and the students (under supervision) treat the patients, as part of their course. Why can't schools function in the same way? If a company or private individual needs a job doing, from building a wall to re-wiring a house, then why can't the schoolkids do it, under supervision from their teacher, for less cash. The students will immediately recognise the value of their work on a personal and financial level and come out of school will real experience and not just theory.
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    Feb 6 2012: Why should we 'pay' students for attending high school? They are already paid for attending high school - compared the lifetime wages of a high school graduate vs. a high school drop out and you'll see a huge difference.
  • Feb 5 2012: We already pay them plenty in the form of an education. After all, education is not free, kids merely get a free ride through taxes of non-students. They are already getting paid $75-200 per week by not being charged for it.

    In fact, I think it would be much cheaper to pay those who need a payment to attend class to not attend at all, as it would increase the focus on those who are there to learn. We could spend the extra savings on expanding the prison and welfare budgets, as that is likely where they would end up either way.
  • Feb 5 2012: When I was in HS, I could make a lot more than $25 a week doing *other* things during school hours.

    The people you want to help would laugh at this proposal.

    The people you don't need to help would gladly take the extra cash.

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    Feb 7 2012: Providing an incentive is a great thing, but do you not believe that this will create the notion of there must always be a reward (a valued backed by money) for good deeds. I say this because kids (before college, or even while in college) are prone to stick with what they have been taught, and only few will take the idea and use apply it in different context. What I'm trying to say is, few will go on hoping that they will obtain money for doing every good deed, and few will learn that having the satisfaction of knowing a good deed (in this case attending school) is done is enough and self helpful.
    I would like to suggest instead of giving money, you give them the benefit they have obtained (of becoming good kids, and performing well in school). I know this idea might seem far-fetched but that's only because the "norm" has become that money will bring happiness. Why dont we try educating students on real life situations, on doing good things, teaching them perspectives and showing them outcomes of doing bad things. Giving them real life situations and studying what their thoughts are. Again, giving money might sound much simpler then taking this extra step, but this is just a thought.
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    Feb 6 2012: Okay, my brain is shouting, 'no way', but my head is sort of nodding up and down at the same time. As someone who is always looking for ways to motivate students, I can see a case-by-case application of this. It happens already to a degree, as far as I know. We have social programs for 'at risk' adolescents, and they are rewarded in a variety of ways for appropriate behaviours. (Sadly, Dan Pink's Autonomy-Mastery-Purpose theories don't really apply to teens.)
    • Feb 6 2012: Really? It does not apply to teens? I would like to get more details about how you know that? Do you for example have a research as a reference to support your claim?
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        Feb 7 2012: Hi Manue,
        ...just my own observations from working with groups of adolescents. I've found that many adolescents are terribly preoccupied with how others think of them - so much so, that it can really mess up their self-awareness, and change what they want, to wanting what others think they want. It's often a maturity issue, as far as I can tell. As a result, their honest thoughts and feelings concerning A-M-P are less predictable than you might think. That's why it can't reliably be applied to teens - at least, not while they are open to the incredibly powerful influence of their peers.
        • Feb 7 2012: Sorry, I cannot just blindly believe what you say, even thus, I am sure you have a very good experience in the field. There is a woman I met who gives money to her kids to do their homework. It does work at least on the short term, but what does it teach them? They will never work for themselves.
          I think there is an issue, but the answer could be somewhere else.
          Finland for example has an excellent educational system. I am not saying that it could be transferred as it is in any country, but I am convinced that we can learn from them.
          Maybe teens should get more open questions to work on for example. I went one year to high school in the us and in many subjects too often, all I had to do to pass the test what choose an answer between four propositions..... Booooooring!! Also I felt the disciplines where not being crossed enough. You study the second world war only from when the Americans get in. In my high school, Almost nothing was said about the genocides. Almost nothing was said on a philosophical and ethical point of view.... Etc... This is the interesting part. Also, Teens could benefit from getting more empowerment over what they need to study in my opinion. Not for everything, maybe but for some things. they are intersted in love, ok, let them study how the chemical response of the body of someone in love. Let them read and study classical authors like Stendhal who describes the physical sensations of falling in love. If you have the chance to test that idea on the teens you work with, please let me know what results you got!!
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      Feb 6 2012: sure they apply to teens. Teenagers want Autonomy over their time, they do want to master what they love and they feel a sense of value when they do something important. I think their current predicament is being stuck in a system (school) that doesn't allow them access to any of those. They feel bored, useless and probably a little like cattle.
  • Manue M

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    Feb 6 2012: Pay student to attend school! I don't think this would be a good idea at all.
    Please watch this... I believe you will be surprised!
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    Feb 5 2012: There isn't that much money available as it is. And why is it that money always has to be the motivating factor? Isn't learning goal enough?
    • Feb 6 2012: In an ideal world it would be unnecessary to suggest a monetary incentive, but with graduation rates below 60% in some schools we have to do something differently.
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    Feb 5 2012: For the likes of America this idea is near impossible with any government likely to exist in the forseeable future; Beyond impossible now and in the next election.
    You would literally have to overthrow the government itself.

    By the way, I'm not saying its a bad idea *in theory*, just an absurd number of hurdles to get over.
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    Feb 6 2012: People get paid for producing something in a free society.

    Do student produce anything? If so allow them to be paid accordingly.

    Making school more production-oriented may be a good idea. But your idea is a bad one.
  • Feb 6 2012: Probably many students will applaud in this question. But we do not need to support a lot of pupils in order to protect the society. Some students want to go to other direction that school system can not help. I think there are lots of things that we can not learn in school days.