"Grandma, look! I was caught being good!" my youngest grandson announced with a broad smile showing off an award ribbon years ago when he was in elementary school.
"What was that?" I responded, thinking I had misunderstood him.
But I hadn't.
He received the ribbon from a teacher on the playground who noticed he picked up trash and put it in a nearby can.
His school had begun a program, Positive Behavior Intervention and Supports (See PBIS.org), where they taught behavioral expectations like they would any other core curriculum.
There are many facets involved to make such a program successful, but the underlying tenet is is respecting yourself and others. Students who met these positive expectations in and out of the classroom were rewarded with badges.
Before you begin to construct your argument against such a program, let's just agree that shame-based approaches don't feel good nor have appeared to work well for humans or animals. There is research to back this up, but simply put, when we reward a person for the desired behavior they tend to repeat it.
I wish my elementary teachers (and mother) had known about and used this technique.
Thankfully, I managed to grow up to be a positive person despite occasional spankings, being sent to the corner, being shamed, and other painful experiences that underscored my undesirable behavior. Negative reinforcement did not bring about positive results for some of my friends and relatives.
I'm convinced it would be a better world if we looked for and rewarded desirable, loving, and kind behavior. Focusing on the positive would be the end of news as we know it, of course, but what a more wonderful world it would be.
What school experience from your childhood or that of your kid/grandkids, did my story just trigger for you?