Nov 18, 2006

money for grades, the root of all kinds of evil?

Parents paying for grades makes me a little uneasy. (Same with strangers paying for grades.) In a case of the right hand's ignorance of the left hand's machinations, The Times runs two articles on the same day that shed light on each other--while neither references the other.

The first covers the topic of money for grades--when it works, when it doesn't. (Even if it works, the experts seem to say the alternatives are better, so there's little to no need.)

The second describes a potential downfall to a pay-for-grades scheme: the risk that it will make students self-centered, even if they become more self-reliant.
...Vohs and her colleagues theorized that even subtle reminders of money would inspire people to be self-reliant and to expect such behavior from others.

A series of nine experiments confirmed their hypothesis.... [S]tudents who played Monopoly and were asked to envision a future with great wealth picked up fewer dropped pencils for a fellow student than those who were asked to contemplate a hand-to-mouth existence....

A poster of bills and coins prompted students to favor a solitary social activity, such as private cooking lessons, while students sitting across from posters of seascapes and gardens were more likely to opt for a group dinner.
My grandpa, who spent a fair part of dinnertime conversation railing against "plutocrats," had it about right: the mere thought of wealth turns people into conservative Republicans.

Now that's evil.

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