Education and Beyond


Nov. 25, 2022

This summer, I worked at of sites for Johns Hopkins Center for Talented Youth (CTY). CTY is a summer camp for gifted kids. The site that I was originally scheduled to work was cancelled due to insufficient employees, so I made a big decision and went to a different site.

One of the coolest things about CTY is the people. You have staff and students from different backgrounds – states, countries, cultures, walks of life, etc. I met new friends, one of whom is from Libya, taught Logic at CTY, and taught math at a university in Wisconsin in his real life.

One day, he and I were having lunch, and he said that he usually gives prizes to students who solve the logic problem, because students deserve it for solving such difficult problems. He also says that students work harder when there’s a prize, and it could be any trinket: color pencils, stickers, etc.

When he said this, I had an epiphany. Before I met him, my incentive was for students to go to the front of the class, read the problem, and showed everyone how they solved the problem was to choose their marker color. I didn’t get (m)any volunteers for both in-person and online classes. So when I teach in-person again this fall, I had prizes for students when they did this really scary thing. This is scary for adults for fear of being judged by our peers, let alone teenagers who have an added cocktail of angst, moodiness, and desire to fit in/not look dumb in front of everyone/not be a goodie-too-shoes, so I believe students deserve a prize for being brave.

Small blue and yellow origami stars

I made blue and yellow origami stars.

I also made colorful stars for my friend as prizes for his students. About a week and half after taking him to purchase trinkets, he needed to go again. Unfortunately, we didn’t authorization this time, so when I handed the box to my friend, he was very surprised. When these stars became the prize, his students LOVED them! He said they were so excited and wanted to know how to make them.

Do you reward people in your life with prizes because they deserve it?


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