We all know what you get when you don’t try in your classes: a big fat zero and a second year in that class that you really hate. On the flip side, what do you get for trying your hardest? Most of the time, it’s pretty much nothing. For some people, the only motivation to apply themselves in school is that they don’t want to fail and repeat a class, but is that really what we should be aiming for?
I think the biggest reason students have this apathetic “at least I’m not failing” attitude is that there’s no real incentive to overperform. While the chronic overachievers get to boast their class rank and a schedule chock-full of honors classes, not every student is into all of that. Most of the students in our school just need a little bit of a kick to get them excited, or just more motivated to give their all. Something as simple as a challenge within an advisory to see who can keep as many of their grades above a B or a class-wide advisory challenge for the quarter. If I know anything about teenagers, it’s that they’ll do just about anything if a pizza party is offered.
I totally realize that some kids just have a really hard time with school no matter how much they try, and I think we should be trying to do something to keep them trying as well. For a lot of people, when they’re not good at something or something is difficult for them, they stop trying because they think it’s not worth it. Figuring out something to keep them from slacking off would greatly benefit a lot of students and our school as a whole.
I’m not saying that the school should go crazy “everyone gets a trophy” on the issue, I just think that kids might try a little harder to get their Cs to Bs and Bs to As if they had a little bit of motivation. By offering some kind of incentive for students to do their best, our students would struggle less in class and teachers would have an easier time teaching a classroom of students who are engaged in their class. In conclusion, I think that grade incentives might not fix the problems immediately, or even at all, but trying something new to get the student body engaged is better than letting apathy run rampant through the halls of our school.