A reader writes in response to the latest wacky idea from economists who offer the reward to teachers upfront, then threaten to take it away (“loss aversion”):
Coincidentally, they are tearing down the statue of Joe Paterno right now. It occurred to me that the scandal at Penn State is largely because of the very things that we are saying are good levers to motivate children. Penn State officials were consistently rewarded with money and trophies. In order to keep their money and trophies, along with the prestige and fame that they had garnered, they resorted to turning a blind eye towards the molestation of children. This is loss aversion at its most repugnant. Yet, in a mark of divine timing, a study comes out positing that the culture of money and trophies is what’s most motivating to our students. Have they learned nothing from the scandal at Penn State?