desirable activity. (http://www.intropsych.com/ch05_conditioning/premack_principle.html)
1965? Premack? Mr. Premack gets credit for naming the principle but he certainly should not get credit for inventing it. Just as gravity was at work eons before Galileo, Newton, and Einstein quantified it, Premack’s principle has been used by mothers throughout the ages:
“You must eat your carrots before you can have dessert”, “When the wood is chopped, you may sled down the hill”, “Hunt the beast and then you can draw on the cave walls”. Many (dare I say most?) moms use Premack’s principle without his permission. Take, for example, me.
Miles does not read for pleasure. He considers reading a chore less desirable than cleaning toilets. [This is a true statement. Miles is an unreluctant toilet cleaner and he has been a very reluctant reader.) This year he inched into the “at grade level” reading category but just barely—“millimetered” would be a more accurate description than “inched”. Summer reading is a must.
Enter Premack. Though I was unaware of his existence at the time, I fully employed the power of his principle. Mr. Miles loves the Green Bay Packers. He particularly loves Aaron Rogers of the Green Bay Packers. I promised my son that if he read 1,000 pages this summer he could wear his very own Aaron Rogers Green Bay Packers football jersey.
For Miles, summer vacation started last Friday at 1:05 p.m. Wednesday at 11:27 a.m. he called me at work to tell me that he had just read his 1,012th page. Wednesday evening he was wearing his Aaron Rogers jersey. Wednesday night he wore his Aaron Rogers jersey to bed. Thursday he wore his Aaron Rogers jersey all day and Thursday night found him in bed, jersey still on. The boy and his jersey are pretty much inseparable.
Chick has some Premack stuff going on this summer as well. He attends classes at the Ogden Weber Applied Technology College (OWATC) from 8 a.m. to 3 p.m. daily which would not be my first choice of summer activities. Of course, by going to school, he is avoiding being at my beck and call so maybe it is not Premack after all…..
Premack principle or not, it has been good. The Machinist I course is a 900 hour program. Friday he passed a math
competency test (algebra, trigonometry, and calculus) that gave him 210 hours. I wish I could earn 210 hours in a week!
Would gardening count as Premack? One weeds (less desirable activity) so that one can eat (very desirable activity). I
weed. I also plant, till, trim, hill, irrigate, and I admire. I think Premack does not apply here. There is something intensely, organically satisfying about weeding, planting, trimming, hilling, and irrigating one’s own garden. This is the first year of the past three that we have planted a full garden and I am amazed at how much pleasure those comparatively scrawny little green plants are bringing me already.
Tanah operated complete outside Premack’s principle Friday. For reasons much deeper and nobler than earning the right to perform a more desirable activity, she cleaned the house. She scrubbed the microwave, swept floors, cleared the bathroom counter, arranged the living room pillows, emptied the office trash, and even did a load of laundry. And she did not ask for money, permission to attend a party, or a trip to Hawaii. What a girl!!
Grace had a hang-over Saturday morning. (Is a hang-over, in the traditional meaning of the word, the antithesis of Premack’s principle?) Long ago and on her own, Grace decided that she would not watch any PG-13 movies until she turned 13 (which, incidentally, made picking out movies to watch as a family significantly more challenging). Saturday
she turned 13. [HAPPY BIRTHDAY GRACE!] Lydia, a friend, also has a June 1 birthday. The two girls decided to watch Grace’s first PG-13 movie together…..at 12:01 a.m. Saturday, June 1st. As Hislops don’t do sleep-overs with friends (period, no exceptions, no questions asked), the girls decided to have a hang-over; they would hang out, watch the movie together, and then, when the movie was over, Lydia would go home. At about 2:00 a.m. Lance took Lydia home and it was all good.
Premack got a lot of publicity for putting words on a principle that has been applied by mothers, teachers, and leaders for ages. Logic says that there are many more commonly recognized, universal truths out there that are just waiting for someone to “put words on them” so to speak.
Try this one.
Tess’ Truism: Raising a family brings joy that is orders of magnitude greater that the amount of effort invested. The joy inherent in being a wife and a mother is indescribable in mere words, unmatched by any other experience, and must be experienced to be fully comprehended.
What do you think?