Carrot and stick?
Classroom Carrots is a ‘unique’ new app that enables teachers to ‘easily’ and ‘immediately’ reward pupils with matching virtual and physical stickers. Each student is assigned their own avatar, a computer-generated, virtual identity, and when rewards are given out teachers simply drag and drop a virtual sticker on to the relevant avatar. Immediately the pupil’s name and reward flash up on the classroom whiteboard or computer. Pupils are then given the matching physical sticker, and if requested, an email can be automatically sent to parents to keep them informed. Aimed at key stage 1 – 3, the rewards are automatically recorded, so teachers can easily create reports, give feedback to pupils, other staff, and to parents. But there is a worrying aspect to all of this. Negative behaviour can also be registered (‘if required’, according to the release). Does this mean that in theory, punitive or negative information about a pupil could also be flashed up on whiteboards, in front of peers and staff, and disseminated quickly to a wider community of parents and other adults? In her excellent Nursery World article, 'Behaviour – Stick with it' Penny Tassoni outlines some of the criticisms that use of stickers in the early years has attracted. These span objections to treating children like animals, with stickers equating to food treats, concerns about the ‘controlling’ aspect of this approach, and the labelling of children as ‘winners’ or ‘losers’. While calling the app Classroom Carrots is meant to suggest a fun approach, it could also bring to mind the old adage - suggesting a rather depressing policy of reward and punishment. For me this could be a step too far for stickers. What do you think?