As a sticker company we’re interested in all things rewards. We’ve searched high and low to find out about the history of rewards in school but to no avail! So we thought we’d write our own history, Sticker Factory style.
We’ve uncovered a number of sources which show the use of stickers throughout the ages. The first recorded use of stickers to motivate children at school was in 1321. This fragment, recovered from the Codex Schola, part of the Little Snoring hoard, shows many similarities with the use of rewards in modern schools:
…Theyn it was, that Brother Ambrose, seeing that the chyldren dyd learn their figures right well made theym presents of paynted bark, which the other monks do call stick-ers, and which dyd have words upon them such as ‘thine work is pleasing to my master’ & ‘Thou has not erred this day and may it be so for all days to come.’ Thye children did smyle and shew them with pryde…
Moving on a few years, the Victorians had their own approach to using rewards in the schoolroom as we can see from the advertisements below:
That’s why I use stickers!
The Modern schoolmaster enjoys days of comfort and nights of ease. Weariness in the classroom is unknown to him thanks to his use of new ‘stickers’.
The Sticker Emporium have been the pioneer in ensuring children’s learning and attention. Vexatious behaviour will be a thing of the past.
Add zest to your marking, used in all schools of distinction.
Do not be fooled by inferior substitutes, our stickers are favoured by the elite connoisseur.
Ms Harshley, mistress at Harshley’s school for unruly children, says: “My students were becoming very unruly, they did not curtsey immediately when I entered the room and my arm was very sore from caning. Now I use stickers instead and the results are astonishing!”
By the modern era stickers had become almost identical to the ones we use today, and were just as popular, as these diaries of a country school mistress, Miss Smith, reveal:
January 27th 1925:
Today was very exciting. I have taken delivery of some new stickers to use with the children, they are the very latest thing and used in all of the best schools. There are lots of different designs including: ‘Ripping work’, ‘Simply toping effort’, and ‘My teacher says I’m the cat’s pyjamas!’ I believe Miss Thompson, who is the venerable matron of our school, disapproves, however it is clear that the children think the stickers are spiffing.
January 28th 1925:
Miss Thompson continues to question my methods so I presented her with some of my new stickers.
January 30th 1925:
Miss Thompson now a flapper. She has taken my stickers and gone to London to learn the Charleston.
We’ll leave it there for now, but will publish some more of our findings in the not too distant future! If you know any history of the use of stickers and rewards in schools we’d love to hear about it. Drop us a line to firstname.lastname@example.org, or get in touch on our facebook and twitter pages. And of course, you can head over to our website for a brilliant array of stickers and rewards.
As always, thanks for reading!