So, last time I outlined the initial thinking that led us to begin paying our kids for their school work. We started paying our kids because we thought it was our obligation to pay our children for their labour. But, a logical question is why we would feel it necessary to pay them for school-work, but not for chores. In fact, most families do the exact opposite. They pay their kids for chores in the form of an allowance, but don’t pay them for school work. Why is this not kosher you ask?
I have come to the conclusion that this setup of paying for chores is sort of odd. Think about it for a minute. Who pays you when you do chores? Nobody. You do chores because they are the daily ploddings of life that all people must do. You don’t get rewarded, or reimbursed for it. You do, however, get reimbursed for the time and labour you spend at your job. The reason is that, in your job function, you are representing a capital labour investment for someone else who pays you for his use of your time and effort. To put it more simply, you don’t do somebody elses chores, you do your chores. But, at a job, you do someone else’s work(the capitalist’s or entrepenuer’s) for them. And they pay you for it.
Now, if the ultimate goal of raising our children is to prepare them properly for life as an adult, then we need to mirror as closely as possible the real world that they will be living in. Remember, that’s why we homeschool to begin with – because real life doesn’t resemble the fake world of government school classrooms. At your job, you don’t get segregated into age-peer groups, so you shouldn’t be grouped that way when your raised either. Now, import the concept of wages into this same scenario. It wouldn’t fit to pay your child for doing chores, but not for their job(school). When we do it that way, we are unwittingly teaching them a fallacious, labour theory of value. We are teaching them that you get paid based on how hard you work. That’s not true.
We get paid, not based on how hard we work, but on how productive we are. Let me demonstrate. Imagine you have five employees that all do the same job(just make up something, like data entry). Two of them are extremely fast typists, and it only takes them an hour to input 50 documents. The other three are slower and it takes them an hour and a half to input the same 50 documents. In this scenario, the second, slower, group works much harder than the faster group to achieve the same results. But, you would think it silly to say that the second group deserves higher wages than the first. In fact, the first group should be paid more, because they are more productive. This enhanced productivity brings a higher return to the capitalist(you), so you can pay them more.
If we pay our kids for their school work, it reinforces the correct idea that wages are a marginal product based on how productive they are. It’s not enough to just put a bunch of junk down on the paper. They have to get the answers right and do it in an ever-increasing efficient manner. If they don’t, they don’t get paid. What matters is output, not labour or even effort. Some kids are naturally gifted in a certain subject like math. That is a benefit to them. The fact that getting the right answers comes easily to them is irrelevant. As long as our kids get the answers right, and show a pattern of solving the same problems quicker over time, they get paid 10 cents per lesson, because that is evidence that they are learning what is being taught. And that’s their job right now.