Do you remember the horror of being called to the front of the class to have a stern teacher look down their nose at you as they line up their cane? The mischief and the fun you were having with your mates only moments before may not seem worth the pain you were about to experience. I remember stories my father told me of growing up in rural Southland where he would get caned at school then, back at home, his parents would see the marks while he was bathing and cane him again to ensure he got the message!

A lot has changed since those days. New Zealand is approaching 30 years since outlawing classroom corporal punishment (although it was formally legislated 4 years later in 1990). The cane was outlawed because of a series of research that showed it was being taken advantage of and could be contributing to other societal issues. It is interesting to see the effect it has had on the education system, and how teachers have reacted.

We now have a whole generation of teachers that had one method of discipline modelled to them growing up, but are expected to foster a learning environment without that very thing - physical force.

What’s the solution then? Your instincts are right. We must work in the opposite way. If fear cannot be the motivator, incentives must be. If the stick can no longer be used, why not attach a carrot to it? Teachers need incentives that are so good that students are willing to change their behaviour to obtain them. This is (surprisingly) a model that looks more like adulthood. In ‘the real world’, a large motivator for the shaping of behaviour is money. Think about everything you learnt in your first job - the one you were incentivised to keep because of the money you earnt. Good manners and an exemplary work ethic were likely products of your striving.

Here at Banqer, when we set out with the goal to teach young students financial literacy, we didn’t quite expect it would be such an effective incentive, placing more power in the hands of teachers and giving students something to strive for.

To the students it’s a game.

To the teacher’s it’s a way to get more done with disciplined students.

When the students look back, they’ll be proud of the financial literacy they learnt and how they became disciplined to achieve their goals.

We’d love to hear about how you incentivise good behaviour in your classroom! Make a post on the Community Board to share your experiences and tips with other teachers!

Insights from Cam Richardson (un-caned student and Banqer Team Member)