How rewarding good behaviour can harm children

17th July 2015 at 17:26
rewards harm pupils

Popular school systems for rewarding good behaviour are actually harming children, according to an internationally renowned psychologist and expert in character education.

Prize-giving assemblies, motivational posters and gifts for children who do well are “killing” classroom culture, argues Marvin Berkowitz, professor of character education at the University of Missouri-St Louis.

The academic says research shows such rewards are counterproductive and that positive role models – in school or at home – are a far more powerful and benign influence on children’s characters.

Professor Berkowitz said that praising a child in public could be problematic. If a pupil’s good character or behaviour was highlighted in class or at an assembly, he said, “at this point everybody hates [that child], she’s uncomfortable, the teacher is killing the culture of my classroom”.

For more on this story, get the 17 July edition of TES on your tablet or phone or by downloading the TES Reader app for Android or iOS. Or pick it up at all good newsagents.


Related Content

Get TES online and delivered to your door – for less than the price of a coffee

Save 33% off the cover price with this great subscription offer. Every copy delivered to your door by first-class post, plus full access to TES online and the TES app for just £1.90 per week.
Subscribers also enjoy a range of fantastic offers and benefits worth over £270:

  • Discounts off TES Institute courses
  • Access over 200,000 articles in the TES online archive
  • Free Tastecard membership worth £79.99
  • Discounts with Zipcar,, Virgin Wines and other partners
Order your low-cost subscription today