If you aim to fail, you will always succeed…at failing that is.
My little guy started a new reading program in school this year. Using the computer, the child has to read and answer multiple choice questions on fifteen books in each level, and for every level he attains, he gains points that he can use to buy stuff. Great incentive to get kids to read. He was on level ‘P’, and with only one more book to read before moving to level ‘Q’, he had another plan. His idea was to re-read the books in levels ‘A-O’, and that way, he figured that he would have lots of practice in reading. He thought this up because the only book left to read in level ‘P’ was one a bit more challenging than the previous books.
“I can’t do it, I will read the book, do the test, and fail” he said, giving up on himself.
Even with the opportunity to order cool prizes like stuff for his bicycle, he still did not want to continue.
When I was a kid (I bet you knew that was going to come up at some time) we did not have incentives like this. If we didn’t do our homework, we visited the principal’s office, and he took out the strap. (a foot long piece of leather about a quarter of inch thick) and proceeded to beat us across the hands ten times. I am a great reader who is deathly afraid of leather straps…I even cringe at the sight of my own leather belt!
I told my little feller that story, and he looks at me and says “I don’t ever want the strap, I sure am glad I live in the future!” and with that, he read the book, with a little help from me. Tomorrow he moves to level ‘Q’