Thursday, September 30, 2010

The Problem with Gold Stars

excerpt from Shop Class as Soul Craft, by Matthew B. Crawford:

"'Aristotle's understanding of happiness can shed light on those activities that truly engage us; maybe it can teach us something about work and leisure as well...In Greek, its telos. In English, this teleological understanding of happiness get condensed in the proverbial saying 'Happy as a pig in shit.'...There is a classic psychology experiment...Children who enjoy drawing were given marker pens and allowed to go at it. Some were rewarded for drawing (they were given a certificate with a gold seal and a ribbon, and told ahead of time about this arrangement), whereas for others the issue of rewards was never raised.Weeks later, those who had been rewarded took less interest in drawing, and their drawings were judged to be lower in quality, whereas those who had not been rewarded continued to enjoy the activity and produced higher-quality drawings. The hypothesis is that the child begins to attribute his interest, which previously needed no justification, to the external reward, and this has the effect of reducing his intrinsic interest in it.'"

(Found this quote posted on a wildly entertaining blog (link below) by a very angry, disenfranchised law school graduate.... Interesting reading on it's own ... I remain eternally grateful I didn't hit law school when it appealed to me. Figured out in about 1992 it wasn't worth it.)

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