Thursday, November 18, 2010

Candy in the Classroom

When I first started teaching in the classroom, I used to have what I called "Tootsie Pop" Answers". Each year I would buy a big container of Tootsie Pops, and when a student offered particularly insightful comments in class, I might toss out a sucker to the astute scholar. In reality, I gave out no more than a couple a week. However, after a while I realized - after watching the kids come back from the cafeteria with copious amounts of candy and snacks - that the treat system really wasn't necessary. In the past ten or twelve years, I have provided no treats in my classroom, and it in no way decreased participation or effort or changed the demeanor of my class.

However, at the same time I have been shocked by the amount of candy and junk that is consumed by students in school on a daily basis. This revelation has been accented for me by also having two kids in elementary school now. My conclusion: there is too much of an emphasis on candy and treats in school. In addition to the candy handed out in classes for nearly every activity, students bring treats for their birthdays, and some classes even schedule "Cookie Fridays." Every fundraiser seems to offer a donut party for the winning class. There is near constant consumption of sugary snacks - and that can't be good.

Many people argue that this is "simply part of childhood." They believe candy is an integral part of being a kid. That's ridiculous, especially when considering the "ridiculous" amounts of candy and cupcakes that are being consumed in schools - from kindergarten to senior year - everyday. There is simply no reason for candy to given to kids for good behavior, and the constant parties and treats emphasize the wrong idea. Celebrating a birthday or a good grade or a school function shouldn't have to be about sugar.


Happy Elf Mom (Christine) said...

Pencils and stickers usually work well for small children. They use raisins and other small food treats from my child's snack to reward him for putting puzzles together etc. (in his special class for autistic children). It is stuff he would have been eating anyway.

For "big" prizes, cool socks would be a lot of fun. You could ask parents to buy a range of colours and sizes.

I try not to get involved over the "little" things like whether they serve candy or treats, though I would prefer there were far fewer as you do. :)

Happy Elf Mom (Christine) said...

PS. It's me, Mrs. C... changed my "name" so that I'm distinguishable from the other 70898 Mrs. Cs out there.

Jordan Crawford said...

I do find 'sweet things' to be good rewards, but not if distributed randomly for "insightful comments." They make more sense in the context of "highest grade on the test" or "winning a contest" or some competition of the sort. Also, sweet things don't have to be candy; it could be something as simple as a couple of extra credit points. I do fully agree that fattening, sugared up, plain nasty food ought to be removed from schools, but I also think that teachers do aid the learning of their students by offering an incentive to perform well, at least a little bit.

Anonymous said...

An integral part of childhood... fiddlesticks.

dave said...

I asked my son's principal today to stop the candy reward system in my son's class and he said he believes in the candy reward system. I don't know how to stop it - candy is a big part of the class at this new school and I want t ostop it!