Monday, September 27, 2004

How to spur thought and save money

Your voice: Kathy A. Galvan

Bishop Mandel Creighton once stated that "the one real objective of education is to have man in the condition of continually asking questions."

If the educational process were perfected, it would be akin to nuclear fusion in that knowledge produced would exceed that which is necessary to produce it. Ideally there would be no limitations to its expansion, either in terms of the number of individuals affected, or the byproduct knowledge produced.

One might ask if direct economic rewards can stimulate an environment where questions are continually asked, and where the knowledge or skills obtained by the learning process are maximized. Perhaps a stipend to students may be offered as a way of ensuring participation in the educational process, or at least a monetary door prize could be assigned per each class attended.

Since school funding is considered an integral part of the education process, perhaps its use could be directed to embrace more students. However, it may be argued that to pay students for simply showing up would remove the incentive to participate and think. Consideration could be given to paying daily each student for each successful expressed thought.

A "penny for your thoughts" would be raised to reflect today's economic value. If the established rate for each good thought were a quarter, on-the-spot rewards might be dispensed from each teacher from a taxicab-like money changer filled with quarters. All students could then associate a pleasant experience with each quarter received and each "ching-ching" of the money changer.

A problem could arise if expressed thoughts and ideas did not, in the teacher's opinion, reflect a full quarter's worth. The student might then simply be asked to immediately make change. Making change too often would be time-consuming and impede the learning process. One might have to consider expelling anyone carrying too many nickels, dimes and pennies. Taking a test would require little more than requiring students to roll and present their accumulated booty.

The process could result in both increased thought and ultimately substantial monetary savings. Students might experience a Pavlovian-like conditioning to the point where they keep expressing good thoughts after merely hearing the "ching-ching" of the changer without receiving their quarter. A program of "Thinking for Dollars" could then be metamorphosed into an educational process devoid of the taint of money, and tax dollars would be saved.

Kathy A. Galvan of Downtown is executive vice president for the Federal Employee Service Center in Cincinnati.

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