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Reinforcements

by Genalyn Toñacao (37th Batch)

“….and every man shall receive his own reward according to his labor.” 1 Cor. 3:8

Have you ever given rewards to someone (especially in a classroom situation) who had done greatly in his work or punishments in order to stop an unnecessary behavior? If yes, then definitely you know the principles of the Reinforcement Theory, developed by one of the greatest behaviorist, B.F. Skinner.

As a missionary English teacher here in Korea, the Reinforcement Theory is one of my most applied theories in teaching and in the learning process in a classroom.

Reinforcement comes in two ways–the positive and the negative reinforcements. Positive reinforcements come with simple praises such as “good job,” “well done,” “very good,” etc.

On the other hand, negative reinforcements, like punishments, weakens the behavior because a negative condition is introduced or experienced as a consequence of such behavior and teaches the individual not to repeat the behavior. However, another author said that it only works often when the punishing agency is present.

I used to give appraisals to my students whenever they could read or write the tasks given to them. Sometimes I would even give them some candies or bread which most likely reinforced their behavior to win a game or get the highest score in our classroom activities.  But oftentimes I incur punishments because of their unmanageable behavior, but they still could not be tamed until a Korean teacher manages them inside the classroom. But whenever he is not around, we usually to go back to the usual scene.

For us Christians, isn’t it that God also incur punishments when our behavior is not right in order for us not to repeat the said behavior? But oftentimes, when anyone is not looking or when we feel that God is not looking at us, we tend to repeat that undesirable behavior.

God also does give us the appraisals whenever we do great things.  And the most wonderful reward we could ever get is the reward of heaven when we strive to finish the goal. Isn’t it wonderful to know that we worked so hard not because of the earthly rewards we could get but because of the heavenly reward that awaits us when God will appraise us with a “Well done thou good and faithful servant?”

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