Sunday, December 10, 2006

Ticket Day

The prompt over at Sunday Scribblings is Punishment and Reward, which got me thinking about Ticket Day. In my son's 1st grade class, every Friday is Ticket Day. All week long, the kids have the opportunity to earn a ticket for good behavior. It's a reward system administered by the teachers in the classroom. You don't get a ticket for just following the rules, but for going above and beyond. You might earn a ticket for helping another student or for holding the door open without being asked. Each table can earn tallies for good behavior and 5 tallies are worth a ticket.

Then, on Friday all the tickets are collected and a drawing is held. If you win the drawing, you get a reward prize (JT's favorite is a homework pass). The more tickets you have in the drawing, the greater your odds of winning. A winner is drawn for each of the 3 tables in the room. Five children sit at each table. So the odds are pretty good that every child in the room will win at one point or another.

Not surprisingly, JT loves Ticket Day. He plans all week to earn tickets so that the odds will be in his favor. Because the system works by rewarding good behavior, he has an incentive to behave well. But the system is intermittently reinforcing, so good behavior doesn't always earn a prize beyond feeling good about behaving well. And to me, this is the real lesson of Ticket Day: that when we do right, we feel good.


ren.kat said...

Isn't it hard enough for some of us to find the courage to be nice when all we may get is a thank you and we have to push ourselves to do it knowing there's no thank you, much less a ticket? It sounds like ticket day could unintentionally be fostering competition and selfishness as much as consideration. But then, I guess no matter what we try to do to teach our kids, that's a danger? Even if we do something nice so we go to Heaven, that's not necessarily a selfless or considerate act, is it? Now I'm going to be thinking about this all day. Don't know whether to thank you for that ;-)

Stacy said...

You could make the argument that our moral goal is to increase the sum total of good acts in the world. Does the fact that some good acts are driven by selfishness (e.g. tickets day), diminish the goodness of the act?

tlc said...

ticket day should be used in the home.

may be mis-interpreted if given a ticket for speeding?

ren.kat said...

Well, honestly, I think it does. I've never been a fan of Machiavelli. When the rewards are gone, the "good" behavior will stop. I do think intention is important- otherwise all behavior is cosmetic. But that's just one opinion. And it's not a perfect argument because I believe your intention is good in implementing ticket day. . . not a good basis for a philosophical debate here, is it?

sarala said...

Maybe I'm a cynic. I think we all do things for rewards of some kind. Why not tickets? As we get older the rewards are just less concrete. How many of us would work if we didn't get paid for it?
Although like tlc my first thought was "but tickets are bad".

S said...

It's my recollection that good behavior was inculcated in me through negative reinforcement. In school, it was generally a nun that would drop a beat down in the event of undesirable behavior. It would seem to me that in developing desirable habits, tickets are a fairly harmless way to approach it when compared with violence. Your mileage may vary.