Wednesday, November 10, 2004

Sugar Daddy

Get ready.

Arkansas teachers have been told they can continue to reward students with candy, despite a state battle against childhood obesity in schools.

Ever since TinyTuna has been in Kindergarten, I have been battling the public school candy monster. They gave out candy for everything: as an incentive, as a tool for learning, or as a reward. Partly cloudy? Milky Ways a-plenty!

So I complained. And complained. And complained some more.

Their argument: School should be fun.

They counted with candy -- and then ate it. They did addition with candy -- and then ate it. They did science with candy -- and then ate it. They formed geometric shapes with candy -- and then ate it. Heck, they probably found a way to conjugate verbs with candy -- before they ate it.

My argument: Learning is fun and it has nothing to do with candy.

Obviously, since I have battled these sugar-coated windmills for many years now, you can see precisely how far my argument has gotten me.

This entire concept of "fun" has always driven me crazy. When did it become so all-fire important to entertain children 24/7? I've always told TinyTuna that school is her "job". I have a job that I go to every day. Her job is school, and her job is to listen and learn and do her very best. I'm not saying that school needs to be drudgery or a punishment, but let's face it: school is a privilege and learning is a responsibility, plain and simple. I firmly believe if you posses a love of teaching and a love of learning and a love of your students, it WILL be fun.

I've tried approaching this from a nutrition standpoint. I'm certain that TinyTuna isn't the only child who will do two things upon consuming massive amounts sugar: Spike and crash. Either one is unpleasant and both together is torture. So, as a parent (and in self-defense), I will go out of my way to avoid the spike and crash. This means that in my house, candy is strictly limited, and can only be consumed in very small amounts and never on an empty stomach. If I'm smart enough to figure this out, I would think it would be a no-brainer for a teacher who deals with a classroom of children on a daily basis.

And if you don't care about the sugar highs and lows, consider the obesity problem in children as well as the alarming increase of children suffering from diabetes. How hypocritical is it to yank juice machines with one hand while you fill your classroom candy jar with the other?

Sure, it's easy to reward with candy. And the kids will love it. And love you. But when they start bouncing off the walls, or stop participating because they are sleepy and can no longer focus, don't complain to me. One of the most important things kids need to learn is that the satisfaction of a job will done comes from within, and not from a fistful of Jolly Ranchers.


TVJ said...

And will the school foot the bill for the fillings that your child will need? What about diabetes? What about allergies? What about the fact that the PARENTS should have a RIGHT to be able to say "no candy for my kid"?

Blog ho said...

I like candy

Gary said...

And, isn't the whole "food as reward" thing also a very bad way to condition people? For even if they can burn those calories off in youth, they won't be able to when they get older.

In school, we were never rewarded that way, and I wouldn't tolerate it for my own children (if I had any). Isn't a job well done reward enough?

Anonymous said...

Right on!! I teach first grade...and I never reward with candy. It turns naturally sweet children into little monsters, times 20.

Margaret said...

Please tell me they allow the children to brush their teeth at least once during the day.

Why not use alternatives~~healthy alternatives like cheese, or fruit (1 watermelon + 1 watermelon=2 watermelons~here's a baller, now eat up). There is plenty of other yummy food available. Why use food as a reward, anyway why not stickers or something?

Now that I think about it, we didn't have all that. When Sis. Mary Patrick said add, off came the shoes and socks and we did as requested!

I can see where this is leading~~give the kid candy, he starts bouncing off the wall, have him diagnosed as being ADHD, which will call for a daily dose of Ritlin~~such a vicious cycle!! Sugar and it's evil friends have different effects on children.

Anonymous said...

Well said. I remember being rewarded with a peanut in a shell when I was in school. It wasn't so much the reward, it was just being rewarded that made us feel proud. I'm happy to report that Alex's teacher rewards the kids with stickers.


G said...

Good points. Whatever happened to stickers? Kids love stickers and they don't cause any bad health problems... (though they can be stuck to inconvenient places). I really hate the whole food as reward thing too, and it's not like kids don't get enough sugar as it is already.

I'm remembering candy rewwards for correctly stating the times tables now...