Monday, May 7, 2012

Dear Parents, Caregivers and Friends of St Mary’s School,


In life there are two ways of rewarding or being rewarded for achievement, progress or participation: extrinsic rewards, where people receive a tangible symbol of their success, be it a trophy, plaque, certificate or even a gold medal.  Some extrinsic rewards, for example a university degree certificate, are obviously more than extrinsic rewards as they are also physical proof of attainment.  Where as a generic player of the day trophy that is won each week is a symbol of success attained in the short term.

The other type of reward is the intrinsic type, that is when you may receive an extrinsic reward but this is only secondary to the innermost feelings that you hold of success, pride and that your success was (to you) vital and essential.  People can feel both intrinsically and extrinsically rewarded at the same time, maybe if they win a sporting event, but while the extrinsic reward maybe lost or loose value over time the intrinsic rewards stays with you forever.

Someone can receive all of the extrinsic rewards imaginable; they can get gold cups, and have ticker tape parades held in their honour but if they don’t value their success and feel the value of the reward intrinsically their success is almost without value.

The challenge as parents and teachers is to get the mix of these correct when dealing with our children.  When they are little a certificate for player of the day or a small generic trophy can offer to them a feeling of achievement or success—an intrinsic reward.  But as they grow the requirement of achieving intrinsic success can be deeper and is based on what goals and aspirations the child/young adult has.

I have seen boys and girls selected in high representative teams who literally shrug their shoulders and say ‘whatever’, while these same people glow with pride when they beat their father at Chess or achieve a high grade in a class quiz.

There are highly ranked sportsmen and academics who don’t feel successful because they have not allowed themselves to be intrinsically rewarded while you will see other people in less auspicious positions who glow with pride because they value their successes.

Pride comes from within, and as parents and teachers of young children we set the tone for our children—we need to ensure that they set themselves honest and attainable goals and that they feel their success is valued.


Have a great week

Mike Brosnahan.



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