Alfie Kohn on Parenting
| Peter Klein |
One comment on the alleged crowding-out effect of extrinsic motivation. As I explain to my students, even when behavior is intrinsically motivated, extrinsic motivation can have powerful effects on the margin. For example, I didn’t go into academia for the money, but because I love research and teaching, I like keeping my own hours, I enjoy walking through leafy quads, and I look right smart in a tweed jacket with elbow patches. However, on the margin, the choice between teaching one more course or one less, attending this conference or that, working on one paper or another, is most definitely affected by monetary and other professional rewards.
Likewise, I want my children to work hard, be kind to others, eat their vegetables, clean their rooms, and so on, not because of rewards and punishments, but because those are the rights thing to do. But do I use extrinsic motivation to elicit marginal changes in behavior, subject to those general rules? You bet your Christmas Wish List I do.