Verdict still out on Viking Bucks

New Berlin West has implemented a new policy for the 2013-2014 school year called Viking Bucks. This is a Viking Buck earned by a student for being prepared.

New Berlin West has implemented a new policy for the 2013-2014 school year called Viking Bucks. This is a Viking Buck earned by a student for being prepared.

New Berlin West has implemented a new policy this year called Viking Bucks that is meant to motivate students to get their work done and overall do good things. Basically if a teacher notices a student doing a good deed or following one of the 3 P’s (polite, prepared, and proud) they give that student a Viking Buck. The student can then in turn hopefully save up enough Viking Bucks for a reward such as lunch with a teacher, $5 gift card, or some other trivial prize. It seems that are many students opposed to this new policy, while others have seemed to dedicate their lives to the pursuit of Viking bucks. It seems most students are in the middle; however, in that they will accept Viking bucks when they come, but will not go out of their way to get them.

Viking bucks are geared toward lower achieving students and underclassmen because they are the ones who need the motivation to do their work. I understand the school’s thinking that if a student is not motivated by getting good grades then they might be motivated by material factors. Some students argue that it cheapens the good deed when a student gets rewarded for it. Yes, these students are probably correct, but that does not dismiss the fact that a positive thing was done. Even though they did it for the wrong reason they still did it.

Primarily the only students who receive Viking Bucks on a consistent basis are low achieving students who often do not meet teacher’s requirements but sometimes show glimmers of hope and squeeze out a Viking Buck from a hopeful teacher. If the student does not finish their homework for a few days in a row and then happens to have it completed one day do they deserve a Viking Buck? The original intention of Viking Bucks was to reward students for going above and beyond in the three P’s. Average should not be good enough. Bringing your homework to class is the bare minimum and should not constitute a reward. In an ideal system students would have a vision for their future and realize that, for it to be bright, it should probably involve some pride in their work, politeness to teachers, and preparedness for class. Of course this is hardly the case for many students. I understand that some other motivation must be provided by New Berlin West to get more of its students motivated.  So in the real world that we are living in I agree with New Berlin West’s attempt at inspiring its students. Some measure needed to be taken, and the school clearly showed they were ready to take the first step. While the results of Viking Bucks are unproven and nobody knows whether they will be successful or unsuccessful it still shows New Berlin West’s commitment to helping its students.

It is somewhat of a bother for higher achieving students to watch teachers hand out rewards to students who did something they consistently do on a daily basis. However, I ask these students which is more annoying and disruptive; a teacher giving a worn out speech every other day about how kids need to dedicate themselves to their studies ( which most already do), or to watch a student be rewarded for doing the bare minimum?

There have been some students that may have been playing a little too much Monopoly over the summer because they seem to be on a holy quest for Viking Bucks however they can get them. I say let them be; our school could use more people such as this and less hipster punks who fall asleep in class and disrespect teachers.

There is a common sentiment among all students that the rewards are not good enough to warrant their interest. Many of the rewards are ridiculous such as eating lunch with your favorite staff member. However, what the rewards should really be looked at as is bonus points. New Berlin West did not have to start this program. While it may not seem worth the trouble of acquiring 30 Viking Bucks in order to get a $5 gift card, when one considers that it is a free $5 for doing what one already does in the first place, it seems more like icing on the cake. Students just want a quick fix. They are used to getting five extra credit points for bringing in a box of tissues. Earning 40 Viking Bucks could take a whole year, but once a person gets up into the 30’s the rewards actually start to get enticing. Students should consider combining their Viking Bucks into a group fund if they do not have the patience to save up on their own. Also, students need to consider that this is the inaugural year of the program. If the program sticks around the school will learn more about what kind of things propel students to follow the 3 P’s and which rewards  are more like getting floss on Halloween. In the future a good motivator might be money; cold hard cash. If a student turns someone in for having illegal substances they get a cash reward and I think a similar reward would work well for Viking Bucks as well.

Younger students will grow up with the system of Viking Bucks, and when they become older and more mature the hope is that they will realize that all of the things they earn Viking Bucks for they should do just because it is the way adults act. The amount of times they do good things that do not get rewarded will make them realize how easy it is to do those things and the impact that they have. If they do not learn these lessons then they are going to have a very difficult time after high school. If one considers the seniors this year, many of them have learned to be polite, prepared, and proud without the program of Viking Bucks. However, there are a good number of them who have not fully grasped these concepts yet. Viking Bucks are not meant to be the end all be all solution to teaching kids values, but it can be used as a tool to increase the number of graduates from New Berlin West that implement the 3 P’s in their life after high school.

In an idyllic New Berlin West we would not need to implement policies such as Viking Bucks, but we need to consider practical solutions that work in a real high school. Viking Bucks are not going to harm high achieving students, but it may help a fair number of the lower achieving ones. Just give it a chance. If it does not work it will be gone in a year or two just like lunch and learn.