Childrearing

Middle School Rewards High Test Scores with Bags of Raw Pork

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(Wikimedia/Herb Roe)

Gold stars and stickers are nice, but they’re not exactly something a person can eat, so one middle school in China has implemented an unconventional new rewards system and is handing out bags of raw pork to students with the highest test scores.

According to Shanghaiist, the school in Henan, China, administered two midterm tests to all the school’s students and said that any students who scored perfect scores on both tests would be given a huge bag of raw pork to take home to their families for the annual Spring Festival holiday. Spring Festival is Chinese New Year, and it’s the biggest of big deals. Almost everybody travels home to see family, and people will have been setting off fireworks for days and days. Most of these kids will be having big family parties and eating lots of food for the next few days, so a giant bag of meat is a pretty practical reward, even though it’s a bit odd.

This year the school says five students managed to ace both tests and were able to bring home the bacon. They also had the opportunity to pose with the meat for a triumphant photo with their grandparents. (A lot of the students live with their grandparents, and their parents work in other cities and send money home to them. The parents will be coming home to see their kids and parents for the holiday.)

Twelve other students scored perfect marks on one of the two tests, but the pork was for kids who had perfect scores on both. Still, getting a perfect score on one midterm is still pretty great, even if it doesn’t come with a kilo of raw meat.

Pork is an unconventional academic reward, but the school says it was chosen on the grounds that it is something useful that can be shared with the whole family during the holidays, rather than a trinket that is just for the kids. One student said that at first his parents thought the principal was crazy, but they’ve since come to enjoy the meat reward, especially since it allows them to go around and share the meat with their neighbors and say things like, “Would you like some of this meat? I have a ton because it was my kid’s reward for getting perfect test scores at school.”

When I was in school I just got a bunch of plaques and trophies that had to be dusted for years and then eventually throw away. A big bag of meat would actually have been a lot more useful and enjoyable. I wish my kid’s school would adopt this rewards system! People would probably complain a lot less about participation trophies if instead of little gold cups everyone got a package of bacon.