Does Paying Children for Good Grades Provide Incentive for Them to Value Education?

By on June 13, 2018

To my knowledge, Americans are the only ones who engage in this behavior and yet their children consistently fall short of the mark in comparison to students in the rest of the world.

India has more honor students than the United States has students. This does not mean that Indians are more intelligent than Americans. It is merely an indicator that Indian students see more incentives in studying and have fewer distractions than American children. Their parents impart to them from a very early age the value of attaining a proper education, especially if their parents are poor. Paying for grades doesn’t enter their minds as most could never afford this practice and those who could wouldn’t even conceive of the notion. How do I know this? Because I was raised by poor Hungarian immigrant parents who explained to me in no uncertain terms the value of an education and all of the rewards that came with that; my parents paying for grades never once entered that equation.

It was my father’s job to support our family. It was my mother’s job to take care of our family. Neither could speak English. They came to the United States with nothing but the clothing on their backs and faced plenty of discrimination because of it. So they had to work long hard hours laboring. No matter how little or how much money my father earned, my mother had to find a way to make it “enough”. My parents explained to me that it was my job to get good grades so that when I grew up I wouldn’t have to work with my back, that I could have a better life working with my brains and provide a level of comfort and security for myself and family with greater ease. They also expressed tremendous pride when I did well In school. When I didn’t do as well as I should have, they were disappointed because they told me that they knew I could do better. What child in the world wants to disappoint their parents?

Both my sister and I agreed with these ideas. Before my children decided to live with my ex-husband who himself saw no value in attaining an education (His parents did believe in paying for good grades.) they were straight A students with perfect attendance and lofty aspirations to be doctors, lawyers, teachers, etc. Since they decided to take the easy way out (much to my dismay) they’ve all either failed and/or barely graduated high school. I believe my oldest daughter is a waitress with no real means of achieving anything more for herself though she is certainly more capable than most because she is so intelligent. My younger three barely scrape by in school/are passed even though they fail miserably despite the fact that they are are very smart: proof positive that their father’s paying them for grades is not nearly adequate to teach the value of an education. I hope that one day, they will come back home to me and realize that the only way to provide security and raise their self-esteem is by attaining a proper education so that they may make their dreams come true. Otherwise, they face a lifetime of struggle and subsistence.

My sister actually moved her children to our parent’s native Hungary for their superior educational system. Her children now speak three languages, learn music and dance, and study very hard in a curriculum that most American children couldn’t begin to fathom. They will do fine in life as they were properly taught the value of an education and that is the self-esteem that comes from achieving your dreams with your brain, not toiling away with your back barely able to scrape by.

Neither I nor my sister ever thought of paying our children for good grades. They get praise and the self-esteem that can only come from accomplishment. If they do not do well then we express dismay and work with them so as to help them achieve the grades that we know they are capable of getting. We instill in them honor, dignity, and pride: all core values that money can not buy. As for what we tell them about their friends whose parents believe in paying them for good grades? Well, my sister doesn’t have that problem as they live in Hungary where such a thought wouldn’t enter the mind of a parent. But when she lived in The United States and my girls lived with me we told them to pity those children and their parents for they are incapable of understanding the value of a proper education and the tremendous personal rewards that come with that.

About Jelena D