Thursday, January 25, 2007

Manipulating children to clean rooms

I had a post yesterday about our unschooly day (which we seem to need once a week) that ended up with a lot of instruction on health matters, learning about Venus flytraps and having two kids go outside to play. However, blogger was having problems and it got lost. I might touch again on that later.

However, I just heard about this program. Because I'm going to speak so negatively about it, I should perhaps not share its name or the link. It's a gimmick to get kids to clean their rooms. More than that, it comes across as so lovely and enchanting and FUN, that many parents are going to love it. Many already do. Yet I hate it!! And I think every Montessorian will hate it, too!

A large part of the program is focusing on rewards so that the children will keep their rooms all nice and clean. They go on about how children learn to feel proud of their rooms and keeping them clean and all this because they willingly clean it every day (to earn this reward) but given I feel so passionately against rewards (please read Punished by Rewards by Alfie Kohn if you haven't already!) and the manipulation behind it all, I'm just appalled! I can see the other side and why parents would love this program and find that it helps so much but... It's old Skinner conditioning. Manipulating the child to achieve a certain behaviour. Not actually working with the child to find the value in cleaning the room or helping them or supporting them, but manipulating them. Essentially, it's easier to bribe the child than to spend time working with them!



Heather said...

I discovered your blog through A Step at a Time....That's sad...I hate hearing about anything on "training" kids....Why can't parents just work with them??? This past week we got 2 of my 3 kids room cleaned. In my one son's room we hauled out a large garbage bag of junk, papers, clothes, scraps of wrappers...It looks so much better... It was hideous before. He was constantly running out of socks only because they were all crammed under his bed and they never made it to the laundry...He found his long lost pocket knife and $20 in one of his jean's pockets...I think he will keep it looking neater just because he received his own "reward" of self accomplishment and having a room he feels good about being in. Plus he is so happy to have a full drawer of socks!!!!

Daisy said...

See--that's a real sense of accomplishment, not this fake thing. I think what bothers me so much is not that they are rewarding children (although that does bother me a bit), but this program goes to such great lengths to be cute and funny and entertaining. I think that so much effort is being put into being manipulative that has got me! Well, and that somebody else is making money off of this, I suppose. Because it's so cute and all that, and IS a way to get your kids to easily clean their rooms and do other things, more and more parents are going to be purchasing the things that are a part of the program.


Daisy said...

You know what, I just realized that even what I said is not what bothers me most: it's that because it's so cute and entertaining, most parents are not going to think there's any harm whatsoever in doing this! Those who like the idea reading my blog right now may be afraid to say anything because they don't get what my problem is. That's ok. There's no judgement about the people involved here, just a frustration with the program. It looks harmless, but deep down, it's just another form of manipulation.

Heather said... are exactly right...another form of manipulation.