Oh, Look! TICKET!

Found in a blog comment here.

“I think the problem is that we ask, “What do we want our kids to learn?” from this assignment, strategy, etc., but we often fail to ask “What do they actually learn?”


Do I want my kids to focus on actively getting involved during a lesson or do I want them focused on earning tickets for sitting still, not calling out, keeping their eyes on their own paper, doing their work, etc.

I would have included “paying attention” on that list, but as soon as a “reward” ticket is dropped on someone’s desk, the ticket becomes the focus and attention is gone. I dare you to show me the excited kinder who can ignore a ticket placed on his/her table or that of a friend.

As soon as the focus is on the ticket, the lesson learned by the kids is not “Hey, if I don’t call out or if I sit still or if I do whatever that kid did to get a ticket, I’ll get one, too!” The lesson really is like a dog and a squirrel. “Oh, LOOK! TICKET!!! TICKET! TICKET! TICKET!”

The lesson this teacher learns is “It’s not worth disrupting my lessons and/or creating some convoluted procedure to teach little kids what-to-do-if-teacher-puts-a-ticket-on-my-table-that-does-not-take-my-mind-off-the-lesson-even-though-TICKET!!!! because:

1. I want an involved, excited, participatory, focused group of kids.

2. Praise and attention trump tickets every day of the week.

3. Tickets make kids crave more tickets, not more learning.

4. Alfie Kohn


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