I think Michael's caution is spot on.
A fairly recent _Harvard Education Letter_ was focused on the
difference between intrinsic and extrinsic rewards, and cited
extensively a not quite so recent book on the pernicious effects of
gold stars, high marks, etc. (I can't find the issue or the
reference at the moment, but I'll go look and respond to offline
questions.) There's also a long history of research on extrinsic
rewards, mere mention of which is guaranteed to bring behaviorists
screaming into the streets.
But the bottom line is this: if you "reward" people for doing
something, the _real_ lesson is that you don't think it's worth doing
in itself, and it's a powerful way to get people not to think that
either. (I won't stop here and say a single word about marks. I
won't. I won't.)
And I'll buy this, from Roger:
> Anyway, my advice would be for initiatives that grounded reading
> in social contexts that were rewarding, in reading that gave the
> student fun/interest/excitement, and in writing that helped them
> explain their world (from poetry to handbooks about how the school
> gets run).
And this, from Michael:
> Given the state of education funding and the growth of
> corporate/school "partnerships," we should be careful with the idea
> of "rewarding" readers. I think that there is a fundamental
> difference between the two types of rewards Roger refers to.
And I thank Michael for having said this, which reminds me of
something I often forget:
> Of course, the inter-generational passing down of literacy skills
> and the social and embodied "habitus" of reading is still anchored
> in social privilege.
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