January 3, 2015 Harold Tor-Daenens

Positive reinforcement: two current generations of me, myself and mine

Currently in western Europe, I see a huge issue with education both in schools and in families these days, and that is ‘positive reinforcement’.

The idea that you cannot punish a child for any wrongdoing and have to at the same time encourage them for performing ‘positively’ has created two generations of spoilt brats who are now in education and functioning in society.

One, a child needs to learn boundaries: he should be punished for anti-social behaviour like theft, deceit and be rewarded for social behaviour like helping and sharing. By concentrating only on positive behaviour, one learns to ‘present’ positive behaviour in order to reap rewards but does not deem negative behaviour as intrinsically destructive. Positive reinforcement is an unbalanced justice system, it drives in the idea that one can get away as much as possible with bad behaviour so long as one presents good behaviour to make up for it.

Secondly, the very idea of reward puts a child on the life support of narcissism. “I alone will perform well so that I alone will reap the rewards”. It encourages negative competition and a whole lot of negative emotions that come from competition: jealousy, envy, revenge, plotting.

While parents love their children so much that they see every punishment either physical or otherwise as wrong, they are letting their children go astray as much as they are letting our society go astray. By pandering to the lousy parenting of this current generation of parents, politicians and so-called education specialists are letting the whole society down.

The situation which we are in now, is a whole bunch of prima donnas who think the world of themselves and others owe them a reward every time they present a tiny ‘positive’ behaviour, no matter how much they have erred in any other respect and they can come up with any excuse possible.

Time to drop the carrot and bring back the stick. 1968 was the worst mistake in European education history.


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