(WHAT a GOOD report!! I just heard this author on Morning Edition, and since he had such brilliant things to say, I didn't even mind the awkward, corkscrew, modern colloquialisms in this guy's speech patterns ... much)
Rewards are really bad for us most of the time. Rewards for learning - passed out to children from some patronizing adult - grrr! - those act like little bits of rust, the little pocks and spots that will devour an entire car over time. In fact, the look on a kid's face when the adult "praises" learning ... well, the kid looks like someone who's just been paid for kisses. It's just nasty to be paid for learning.
Do I rant?
Why, yes, I believe I do.
Here. Here's what the guy said, and here's his book. He's less ranty than I am. And he's right. Regarding the "Tom Sawyer Effect," Daniel Pink says,
Adding a sense of autonomy and mastery to an otherwise dreary task can turn something that is work into playfulness.(That's the way wise moms handle household chores. Let the kid own the mastery of it. Praise the skill level with genuine admiration. And for heaven's sake, stop picking at it!) He goes on:
Paying somebody to do something they really love to do can often turn play into work.(!!! and ...)
There's a lot of research that shows that if you apply contingent, external rewards on something that's inherently interesting, you can actually extinguish someone's interest in that activity.(ExACTly!!)