Although I have successfully utilized badges with students for a few years now, I’m finding that there is a growing number of detractors out there that concerned about the effect gamifying a classroom has on intrinsic motivation.
I originally started my badge program after taking time to reflect on what motivates boys in the real world to help them persevere through extended rigorous tasks. Because I had some history as a Boy Scout, I remembered how I revered the older Scouts during our Courts of Honor: Boys explaining/showing off their merit badge collections on sashes draped over their shoulders like bandoliers or hanging off of their belts like bowie knives.
Even grown men were bringing their sashes in to show Scouts in the troop what skills they had learned while they were active!
The competitive nature to demonstrate individual uniqueness that is innate in human beings will always prevail, but so will creativity and innovation.
When a child is able to celebrate a skill that they have mastered while also targeting peer and/or adult mentors in areas they have a desire to grow in, I believe educators are heading down the correct path.