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Karen's Letters

On My Mind: Paying Kids to Learn

Last week TIME magazine ran a cover story about paying kids cash money to get better grades.

The objections to cash ‘rewards’ for schooling have been around for a long time and can lead to tremendous political uproar. There are moral objections—children should do what’s expected of them without reward. There are philosophical, theoretical, religious, and of course financial objections.

Well, this fellow at Harvard, economist Roland Fryer Jr., decided the first thing to do was to find out if paying kids to do better in school actually worked or not. Forget all the existing studies and opinions. Forget those specific schools where reinforcers, large and small, are built into the system. According to TIME, Dr. Fryer “did something education researchers almost never do: he ran a randomized experiment.” (Just think about THAT for a minute. They opine stuff and put it into the schools and they don’t TEST it?)

Fun with Rats

I loved Lucy

When I lived in the Pacific Northwest, I kept a brown and white pet rat named Lucy. She would come when called, so I could give her the run of the office. She was a delightful pet, cozy, chatty, and full of enjoyment of life. When I moved to Boston, I re-homed her with a neighbor’s little boy and he loved her, too.

What I Love about ClickerExpo

Another opening, another show…and what a good show it has become! We know and expect that our contributors are all leaders in their fields, sharing cutting-edge new information with us every year. But hey, as performers, too, they just get better and better.

Can a Punisher Also Be a Reinforcer?

A chilly start

On New Year’s Day my otherwise wonderfully sane son-in-law took his family to the beach and went for a swim. Big deal, right? But this is Boston.

A Scaredy-cat Dog

I’ve had a lot of dogs in my life, Labradors and poodles and Great Danes and Border terriers, a Weimaraner, a collie, a golden, and a great mutt named Goulash. But I never had a fearful dog—until the current Dog-in-Residence, Misha, my German spotted poodle.