Massachusetts Principal Bans “Honors Night” To Avoid “Devastating” Non-Honors Students

article-2296757-18D2FAE7000005DC-226_634x328For years, I have been struck by the trend in schools for recognizing everyone or no one in awards ceremonies. Last year, I watched an award ceremony where everyone not given any award for academic excellence was given an award at our public school. The same logic appears to be motivating Principal David Fabrizio of Ipswich Middle School in Massachusetts. Fabrizio has ended a long standing tradition of “Honors Night” because the failure to be part of it could be “devastating” to the students not receiving honors. He noted that some children do not have parents who are supportive at night and do not make honors due to poor home conditions.

I have seen the same view in both academics and sports with my four kids. I am supportive of giving kids recognitions for participation in school activities. However, I do not see why we cannot recognize top achievers. This is part of life. You work hard to achieve distinction. Sometimes you do, sometimes you don’t. You have to learn to handle not just success but failure in achieving goals. I find it far more pandering and insulting to take the “everyone’s a winner” in everything.

Fabrizio’s motivations are commendable. I just disagree with his conclusion. He stressed “The Honors Night, which can be a great sense of pride for the recipients’ families, can also be devastating to a child who has worked extremely hard in a difficult class but who, despite growth, has not been able to maintain a high grade-point average.” Yet, school prepares students for handling the realities of life. I was often dominated in sports and, even in swimming where I worked the hardest, some kids simply were faster and received the lion’s share of honors. However, my parents taught me to keep trying and never give up. I learned to be happy for my classmates. Was I jealous, of course. But I learned not to take the award as a statement about me personally. I prefer that to creating an artificial environment where we downplay excellence.

This is a competitive world and these students will soon be part of it. Equalizing everything to the lowest common denominator does not seem a good environment for learning. Competition does not have to be personally devastating and school is a key time to show that there are a variety of ways to distinguish yourself. Rather than avoid such rewards, I think it is better to maximize the range of activities to allow students to find a good way to express themselves and excel. What do you think?

Source: Daily Mail

81 thoughts on “Massachusetts Principal Bans “Honors Night” To Avoid “Devastating” Non-Honors Students

  1. I agree that this principal’s motives were good, but kids have to learn that they can’t always be the best. I learned that lesson very quickly in geometry!

  2. I graduated High School in 1970. There was no Valedictorian crap at any time during my school career, no special honors night, none of that. Yet we somehow managed to produce a group of adults as successful as any comparable group.

    Not having the ‘night’ is stupid but not any more so than having the program of ranking kids in 7th grade based on grades. Plenty of failures in life who drew straight A’s in school. My 3.52 GPA at university proved only that I knew how to succeed at university – and maybe even not that as I did not finish because of, you know, life.

    We focus too much on unimportant trivialities and too little on producing happy, healthy, successful adults. That is true with or without an honors program or an honors night.

  3. I wonder if this principal is also canceling the school’s sports banquet (surely it has one) so as not to “devastate” its students who are not gifted athletes. Somehow I doubt it.

    Of course you’re right. Pretending as if everyone has won and all must have prizes–or none must have prizes lest anyone be hurt–is no way to prepare students for the future. Also, kids know when they’ve been given a fake prize and it doesn’t help their self-esteem. What does is SUCCESS–hard-earned, and not always coming to everyone, but well worth trying for.

  4. I was on the wrestling team in highschool and one night, at a home match, we had “senior night” where each senior on the team would be honored with the school administrator making some brief comments about how great a student we were or how much potential we have and which college we had been accepted two.
    I found the entire thing utterly disgusting; the team from another school shows up for a sporting event and the school admin uses the opportunity to essentially brag to the parents about how our students were so great and all going to college and implying the opposing team is not any of those things. The other team had to sit through the entire circle jerk and it is something to this day almost twenty years later that I regret participating in.
    I think this guy did the right thing even if for the wrong reason. Awards are for pets.

  5. There are many non honors students that excel in life. Many honors student do not. And of course there is that pesky problem of what success means.
    Getting high marks in school is an easily delineated and measurable achievement. The students in a class are well aware of the abilities of their fellow students.
    Not recognizing the honor students in a ceremony does nothing. During my school years I knew which students were bright, studious, hard working. They already have achieved the acknowledgement, the respect…. (or derision) of their classmates by the time these ceremonies take place.
    My opinion is, Though well intended, this concept is poorly thought out. I believe it is simply a placebo for Adults projecting their insecurities onto the children.

  6. I like how just at this post ends, we get to all your ABA Blawg 100 awards.

    I think the key to both having awards and being appropriately sensitive to the non-honors students is to make the awards extremely competitive so that there is no need to feel devastated by not being recognized.

    There are a lot of people who want the award for top exam in their class, but I doubt many people are devastated by not winning. Disappointed, sure, but it’s easy to shake off not being #1 out of 80 or 120. Not so easy if the school honored the top 30% or 50% of the class.

  7. I’m with the principal here. Too often honoring kids at this level means purely subjective evaluations by teachers or administrators or test results that prove more about the ability to take tests than the information itself. In middle school has anyone really done anything noteworthy? I think introducing anything competitive for this age group is mere pandering to the parents. There’s plenty of time to recognize real achievement later. Bravo, principal David Fabrizio!

    As for JT, back in the pool!

  8. I read the article in the Ipswich Chronicle. According to that article, top students will still be acknowledged at the school–but in a different way. The principal plans to honor the students in front of all of their classmates at the end of the school year. What’s wrong with that?

    *****
    Honoring Ipswich Middle School honor students
    By Dan Mac Alpine
    GateHouse News Service
    Posted Mar 20, 2013
    http://www.wickedlocal.com/ipswich/news/x846072225/Honoring-Ipswich-Middle-School-honor-students#axzz2O8bKZ6Xz

    Excerpt:
    Ipswich —

    He’s being accused of “dumbing down” America on talk radio, but Ipswich Middle School principal Dave Fabrizio says he’s doing what’s best for his students.

    Fabrizio’s decision to change the way the school recognizes its honor students at the end of the school year sparked the controversy.

    Previously, Ipswich Middle School honor students were recognized in a separate, evening ceremony, which included inspirational speakers.

    This year, under the first-year principal, the honor students will be recognized in front of their peers during a daytime, school assembly at the end of the school year.

    The decision upset some parents, Fabrizio said, because they believed the change dropped the honors recognition ceremony a notch or two.

    Fabrizio disagreed and refused to change his mind and the story hit Fox News and then migrated to talk radio.

    “We had a situation where our best students were being honored exclusively away from the rest of the school. The problem was, those who needed that motivation weren’t there,” said Fabrizio, who hopes recognizing the honor students before the whole school will inspire other students to work harder and become honor students themselves.

    Despite the criticism, Fabrizio said he has received a “folder full of supportive e-mails.”

    Fabrizio stressed the decision to change the recognition ceremony included faculty, faculty leaders and the school council, which includes parents.

    “This isn’t the dumbing down of America,” said Fabrizio. “This isn’t everyone getting a trophy. The same kids who were honored before are being honored now.”

  9. Elaine M:

    “He’s being accused of “dumbing down” America on talk radio …”
    *******************

    How’s that for irony?

  10. Raff,

    But he good Benedictines….. Were all to gladly to point out your sins…. While praising the good holy father….

  11. The reward is in the achievement, not in the trophy.

    (Perhaps this principal has had to deal with too many stage mothers and fathers pushing their kids forward in the school politics game … so he ended the game.)

    I was raised with the philosophy that doing one’s best was expected … no praise necessary. Helping someone else to do their best was praiseworthy. There were lots of trophies, certificates, and ribbons in my childhood home, awarded to both children and parents … none were on display.

    My mother and father would have supported this Principal’s action for they would have approved of his motivation … as do I.

  12. I got to be Dog of The Month. The dogpac did not put this together, it was the humanoids here at the marina where we dogs live. The other dogs were fine with it until I got the Good Dog treatment by all the dog pals and a dog treat– while the other dogs got no pet on the head, no compliment and no bisquit. Well. Dog of The Month for one group is jerk of the month to another. FartinDog kept up his practice of you know what, right near my face. IchtinBayDog didnt shut up for a month, which was par for the dog course. And so on. Churches do a Dog of the Month kind of thing for the humans so as to keep the flock together for fleecing. Schools do the apCray so as to backhandedly award themselves a Good Dog for being a Good Teacher. One of our humans at the marina has a kid who is named Dick who was named Valedictorian at his high school. The other human kids started calling him ValDick. He had a girlfriend named Valery which made it all worse. He is kind of a weenie and we dont think that they were porkin either. Yet. The award will probably encourage that endeavor. So, with Dogs as with Kids, give em an award for something and there are collateral consequences which are unintended. What will Valery’s parents say when she gets knocked up by the Valedictorian? Nuff said.

  13. Dog of the Month is a great thing. I was January Dog of The Month. My photo was posted on the bulletin board and all the humans who come to the marina were positive. I got lots of dog biscuits and gained a pound. But, I got rid of that pound by the end of March. My half blind guy, for whom I am guide dog, got an award at his club which they call Hooters. I kept an eye on things at the award ceremony and thereafter and can say that he made out better than I did as Dog of the Month. The gal’s name was Precious and she had good credentials to work at Hooters. Now when half blind guy and I come into Hooters the regulars give him a hoot and call him Trickster. I am allowed in the bar because I am a guide dog.

  14. Well we finally get the WHOLE story from a better news source. The awards were not cancelled, just the fact that the whole point is to honor students in front of their peers, to hopefully motivate them. This guy has it right and sound like a great idea to me. It was NOT about having those who did not get an award being devestated.

  15. FWIW:

    PRINCIPAL’S STATEMENT

    “Ipswich Middle School is dedicated to high achievement in every facet of our students’ lives. We did not cancel honors recognition as erroneously reported by FOX News Boston. We changed our Honors Night from an exclusive ceremony at night to an all-inclusive ceremony during the day in the presence of the entire student body. During this ceremony we will honor those who have excelled in academics, in athletics, in the arts and in the related arts. Any reports to the contrary are incorrect.”

  16. Congrats to Elaine for the great follow-up! How many times do people get their BP up 100 points only to learn that the outrageous headlines are nothing more than outrageous garbage designed to raise your BP?

    Blouise? That firs sentence should be put on a plaque and given to every person in the country!
    The reward is in the achievement, not in the trophy.”

  17. AY,
    lucky for me the geometry was at the public high school that I attended. If I had the good Benedictine sisters for Geometry, I might not have survived!

  18. I’m not a fan of honors programs. The competition for them can blunt the real educational opportunities. It can lead to taking just the “easy” classes and dropping very useful classes where the learning is difficult. And, as pointed out, there are students who work even harder than the “winners” in order to achieve a minimum grade. Imo, the latter are the ones to be honored. Middle school honors? Waay to soon. Have an assembly with motivational speakers but can the individual honors. High school honors, if given, should be based on the journey, not the end result.

  19. I wish the original story was true. That principal would have been on the right track to junk the awards ceremonies and everything else that elevates some students above others. Just as virtue is its own reward, getting high grades is reward enough without a ceremony.

    What is supposed to be the benefit to the other students of seeing other students honored? They are not in school to be the cheering section for other students.

    I agree with the poster who said this was self-congratulation for the school and the teachers and pandering to some of the parents more than anything else. If anyone thinks that middle school is too early to start separating the kids out for honors, the truth is they start marking kids out to be the top students in kindergarten. I saw it when I volunteered in my daughter’s kindergarten class and children were selected for special reading groups with a special teacher. It puts pressure on those children throughout school years and other children resent them.

  20. Karen,

    When I first began teaching in the late 1960s, students in the community where I taught were placed in elementary classrooms according to their test scores. Imagine being a student who was placed in the “dumb” class year after year. The first year I taught there were four third grade classes: high, high average, low average, and low. I was assigned the low average group. I had many very bright students that year. Fortunately, that placement practice was discontinued a couple of years later. It was a terrible idea to begin ranking children as early as the primary grades. Some children develop later than others. How awful to segregate children “educationally” from each other at such a young age.

  21. Wigging out can happen when there is a notion of too big to fail or of too small to fail.

    Sometimes that wigging out causes intellectual incest.

  22. Elaine,
    It makes you wonder if the people running schools understand anything about human nature or have any common sense. How could they have any experience with children and think themselves capable of sorting third graders into 4 intelligence categories????

    In my opinion, it hurts those selected to be the “high” intelligence students (and it IS a selection). They are under pressure and they are supposed to be competing with the other top students. They feel there is no other way for them. Truth is, most of adult life is not competition and even when you are in competition, it might not be helpful to focus on the competition. If you’re applying for a job, you can’t do anything about the qualifications of the other applicants.

  23. Elaine,
    I can remember as far back as grade school when we were segregated into the “readers” and the “not so good” readers groups. Every student realized what the selection meant. It is good to see schools that now also recognize the students who are improving their work and/or effort.

  24. Raff,

    One has its cross to bare….. I had a nun and geometry….. I was not so lucky…. I will give her this point…… She on a regular basis checked my reflexes….. Either the eraser or chalk would zoom past someone’s head on a daily basis….

  25. Elaine,

    Not only were you lucky to have recognize that early on in your teaching career…. But your students were Especially Blessed….

  26. I like school systems that aren’t afraid to experiment, to try new ideas. Often many of these ideas are abandoned after a trial period as they prove unworkable or not suited to the student body but I appreciate the open mindedness that allows the experiment.

  27. Karen,

    It is often parents who push for talented and gifted programs. The pressure often comes from the home. I saw it in the affluent town where I taught. One year, a group of high school parents threatened litigation because their children weren’t nominated for the National Honor Society.

    I don’t see schools as places of competition. They should be places of learning…places where children’s minds are expanded–no matter what level they may be reading on. I have a grand nephew who struggled with reading in his early years in school. (He has a grandfather who is a dyslexic.) Fortunately, the district where he attended school saw how bright he was. He got lots of academic support from the schools and his parents. He finished his high school requirements in three years. He worked on special academic projects his senior year. He is now an engineering student at a university with a highly regarded engineering program.

  28. Raff,

    Lol…. Can you imagine catching a piece of chalk on the forehead…. I sat in the back row for a reason…. But that lady could nail you with a piece at 30’…. I kid you not….

  29. rafflaw,

    I had a seventh grade nun who sat us in class by our monthly academic average. I usually was placed in the first or second row. I was absent for a while one month–which brought my average down. I had to sit in the next to last row then. A girl named Mary Jane sat beside me in the last row. She quipped, “If I were absent, I’d probably end up sitting on the window sill!”

  30. Elaine,
    I know what you mean about the parents. Was it just coincidence that the kids whose parents ran the PTO were chosen to be in the school instrumental music program or the “gifted and talented” program? I always wondered about that.

    The term “gifted and talented” is a deliberate insult to the other children, isn’t it?

  31. National Honor Society is a terrible idea. When I was in school, they had the current members walk around the auditorium and tap the newly selected on the shoulder. It had to have suspense. There were children who spent the rest of the day crying after that.

    Its not much better now. What is the beneficial purpose that outweighs hurting so many children? I can’t think of one.

  32. This man is nuts. We all have to deal with different levels of success in our lives. If he is concerned about children who do not have supportive parents he should work on that issue not punish those who have achieved honors.

  33. Karen,

    Speaking as a former lab rat, G&T programs are often not a treat for the kids in them either. I was in them from the 3rd grade until graduation. That “insult” is a mark of division and that sword cuts both ways with kids. It creates an “officially sanctioned” tribe amongst children who tend to be tribal anyway. You’re ostracised for being different and automatically considered a suck up to authority. And that kind of behavior doesn’t just come from the kids either. I had several runs ins with teachers over it too, including one particularly nasty 6th grade teacher who told me “you’d be nothing without me, I’m the one who got you in to gifted and talented” . . . until I pointed out that I had been in the program for three years and that she had no idea who I was until I was assigned to her class. At which point she called my mother a b*tch and I countered by suggesting that she do something anatomically impossible and got sent to the office. If you get the impression that despite being in such programs that I’m not in favor of them? That would be correct. However, that being said, I am not against offering advanced classes for advanced students. That’s useful. The making a big deal of it? Not so much.

  34. Not sure why everyone is so hung up on trophies. It comes from the Latin word “tropaeum” meaning a tree-like monument erected by the victorious side from which hung the human body parts of the vanquished foe. If anyone wants their kid to get that, I say call social services. Otherwise, let kids be kids and avoid parent gratifying social wedges replete with some notion of phantom achievement to pry students apart. Kids don’t achieve they progress — some at different rates. They don’t need no stinkin’ badges to make mommy and daddy feel better about their parenting skills but instead need encouragement from everyone including their fellow students who could care less about how many trophies they have. It’s only when trophy-less little Johnny comes home to the inquiring-minded mommy and daddy does the competition begin and the problems take hold and the cliques start to form. Been there done that.

  35. Gene,

    One main problem that I found with “gifted and talented” programs was that they weren’t actually programs for gifted and talented students. In my school system, they were programs for bright students who did well on tests and academically in the classroom–and for the children of parents who made a big fuss if their children weren’t originally selected to participate in them. Many of these G&T programs often ignore students who are gifted artistically, are talented musicians, are adept with their hands, etc.

  36. I can’t believe that people are agreeing with this. I can understand agreeing if this isn’t the whole story, I don’t know , no one does except for the people involved, but for arguments sake, let’s say this is the whole truth. Why on earth would it be ok to punish students who try hard and achieve honors by taking away a special night meant for them? What message is that sending? Hey kids, dont try hard, it gets you nothing. Day in and day out I deal with the same problem. Kids who don’t do anything because they don’t care. Why don’t they care? Because no one gives them a reason to. Certainly not their parents. Oh I can take away recess but what does that do? Nothing. They go home and play and tell their parents how mean their teacher is . Th parents agree and bad mouth the teacher and the student learns that the effort to succeed just isn’t worth it. I was lucky because my mom pushed me . She required that I did well, so I did. Kids today don’t have that. So ya maybe there is a couple students who try really hard and still can’t make honor roll, but there are definitely more students who do poorly because they don’t do anything at all. We are taking away all incentives todo well in life. Really why try at all when you don’t have to? This is ridiculous . Just a bunch of poor sports ruining it for the people who put in the extra effort and get goo grades.

  37. My name & Jude,

    I’m reposting one of my earlier comments for you:

    I read the article in the Ipswich Chronicle. According to that article, top students will still be acknowledged at the school–but in a different way. The principal plans to honor the students in front of all of their classmates at the end of the school year. What’s wrong with that?

    *****
    Honoring Ipswich Middle School honor students
    By Dan Mac Alpine
    GateHouse News Service
    Posted Mar 20, 2013
    http://www.wickedlocal.com/ipswich/news/x846072225/Honoring-Ipswich-Middle-School-honor-students#axzz2O8bKZ6Xz

    Excerpt:
    Ipswich —

    He’s being accused of “dumbing down” America on talk radio, but Ipswich Middle School principal Dave Fabrizio says he’s doing what’s best for his students.

    Fabrizio’s decision to change the way the school recognizes its honor students at the end of the school year sparked the controversy.

    Previously, Ipswich Middle School honor students were recognized in a separate, evening ceremony, which included inspirational speakers.

    This year, under the first-year principal, the honor students will be recognized in front of their peers during a daytime, school assembly at the end of the school year.

    The decision upset some parents, Fabrizio said, because they believed the change dropped the honors recognition ceremony a notch or two.

    Fabrizio disagreed and refused to change his mind and the story hit Fox News and then migrated to talk radio.

    “We had a situation where our best students were being honored exclusively away from the rest of the school. The problem was, those who needed that motivation weren’t there,” said Fabrizio, who hopes recognizing the honor students before the whole school will inspire other students to work harder and become honor students themselves.

    Despite the criticism, Fabrizio said he has received a “folder full of supportive e-mails.”

    Fabrizio stressed the decision to change the recognition ceremony included faculty, faculty leaders and the school council, which includes parents.

    “This isn’t the dumbing down of America,” said Fabrizio. “This isn’t everyone getting a trophy. The same kids who were honored before are being honored now.”

  38. Jonathan, did you even read the column you cited? Nothing has been banned, honors haven’t been removed, nothing has been equalized. The students who did not receive honors have been invited to attend the ceremony at which honors students receive their recognition. Are you really criticizing the opportunity for honors students to be recognized by the rest of the student body, for the non-honors students to get a first-hand look at the accolades that they could have if they increased their achievement?

    Also, were you aware that they let the students who didn’t make the Varsity football team attend the games to watch? What an outrage! I trust you’ll be writing a Sternly Worded Letter informing the school that this, too, is the death of the meritocracy and that only people who earned a spot on the varsity football team should be allowed to attend football games. Band students who didn’t make All State Band should similarly be prohibited from attending the concert.

  39. My name:

    “I can’t believe that people are agreeing with this. I can understand agreeing if this isn’t the whole story, I don’t know , no one does except for the people involved, but for arguments sake, let’s say this is the whole truth. Why on earth would it be ok to punish students who try hard and achieve honors by taking away a special night meant for them? ”

    (…)

    “I was lucky because my mom pushed me . She required that I did well, so I did. Kids today don’t have that. So ya maybe there is a couple students who try really hard and still can’t make honor roll, but there are definitely more students who do poorly because they don’t do anything at all. ”
    ************************

    Not sure you were “lucky.” What you were was pushed to achieve. That’s ok but you lost all sense of proportion by developing an arrogance along with your achievement and that attitude was directly fostered by telling you how good you were and ipso facto how bad, lazy, stupid those who didn’t progress as fast as you were. That’s a handicap that takes a long time to overcome. The truest comment you make is “that you can’t believe ….” You can’t because you’ be been conditioned to believe you’re right and others are necessarily wrong. Wonder where that attitude came from mom?

  40. Elaine,

    Having been in multiple programs across different systems, I can say that what you describe does indeed happen, but not universally. Mileage, as they say, may vary.

  41. JT”Fabrizio’s motivations are commendable.”
    No, they are NOT. In this society, like it or not, some achieve and some do not. Our education system has already been ‘dumbed down’ far to much. Some schools have discussed doing away with grades so that some poor little saps all-important ‘self esteem’ isn’t damaged. Well guess what, kids. When you get out of school and you enter the workforce, your boss isn’t going to give a damn about your ‘poor self esteem’. You aren’t going to get extra points because you were brought up on the other side of the tracks. These ‘feel good’ measures do nothing to prepare the kids today for the realities of tomorrow, and that is, at least part of the job of the education system. Reality bites.

  42. Kraaken:

    Funny the kid from he privileged classes gets points because of where he was brought up. his boss cares about his self-esteem and makes damn sure he’s happy. There’s two worlds out there my insightful friend and it’s society that let’s it happen. Another funny feature is that these privileged folks love dividing the rest of us with these ridiculous notions of pulling yourself up by your boot straps. They also love selling the promise of meritocracy for everyone but themselves.

  43. The students who seemed to most need added incentives were those who were struggling. It’s too bad they didn’t get them.

    I did well in school and didn’t have to work all that hard. But there was one time when I needed an incentive. We started taking Spanish in 5th grade. It wasn’t in the least bit intensive. It was an elective after that. Those who continued took 1st year Regents in 8th grade. Early in 9th grade we were told that we could take the 2nd year Regents in January and, if we passed it, we could retake it for a higher score and take the 3rd year Regents. Now that was a carrot…no more foreign language requirement! With a bit of studying my grades gradually went from barely passing to solid B’s and A’s by January and stayed there until June. I passed both tests with ease. Without the possibility of getting 3 credits for that year’s work, I would have barely passed for the rest of the year and hated the subject.

  44. Take it from those who have earned it for the “benefit ???” of those who have not.
    What is the logic for not rewarding people for their hard work because it might hurt the feelings of others who did not earn the recognition?
    This is the most about the most stupid decision by an administrator I have heard in a long time. He would destroy the incentive to achieve and not show non achievers that hard work will earn rewards. This guy is an idiot.

  45. There are some honor students for whom school comes very easy. There are some children who try very hard in school who don’t make high honors. Not all children who are high achievers are paragons of virtue. Not all non-honors students are lazy lumps on a log.

    As mespo said–some children are fortunate to be born into
    the right families. Some children have to struggle more than others because of where they come from.

  46. Pat,
    They were “rewarded” with the good grades. Thats what they “earned.” Awards ceremonies are probably a bad life lesson for the kids. I agree with what mespo said about the danger of making a young person arrogant and that it creates an obstacle they will have to overcome. I saw it with my older brother who was a very bright kid and the teachers praised him and told him he was going to be so successful simply because he was so bright. It doesn’t work like that at work. The praise and “rewards” he expected to get just for being bright did not happen and he was always demoralized and angry.

    Elaine made the point that the children getting these awards are mainly good test takers. Very few are geniuses who are going to shake up the world. The school might be ignoring the genius, actually.

  47. No I was lucky. I know the value of hard work. I know that it pays off in one form or another. I am knowledgeable . I have intelligence. I don’t think others Are always wrong and I am far far far from arrogant. I learned that if I want something I can get it regardless of who I am or what other people say. I learned that no one has an excuse for not trying. I am LD . I made honors, it took awhile but I did. I had a goal and I reached for it. I didn’t let my poverty status or my disability excuse me from trying. Probably why I was a professional at 21 and had my masters degree at 25. So ya I was lucky.

    So mespo …..what did your work ethics get you?

  48. My name:

    So mespo …..what did your work ethics get you?

    ***********

    The capacity to spot a braggart with a irreversible dearth of compassion when I see it. Nobody succeeds alone though most think they do.

  49. You honestly couldn’t be more wrong than you are now. In fact I never ever ever brag. I don’t like attention and I don’t like the spotlight. The last thing I ever would do is boast my achievements. Even at work I try to stay under the radar as much as possible. I do what I do for me , not for other people to be impressed. I teach to help children realize that with dedication and hard work they too can achieve anything they want, it is up to them. Taking away honor roll does nothing but show those children that some of them just cant do it. That is an injustice because everyone can achieve greatness regardless of race, gender or socioeconomic background. You shouldn’t act like you know who I am based on assumptions. Just because I was taught to work hard for what I want , doesn’t make me a “braggart”. It makes me a hard worker. Something I think more people should learn to appreciate.
    These students will learn one day that life comes out to how hard you work and how bad you want something. Maybe this principal is cutting them a break now, saving them embarrassment, but whats going to happen when they become adults? Are we as a society just going to hand them money or whatever else they want because we don’t want them to feel bad about themselves……oh wait……that is what we do isn’t it.
    If you saw what I see everyday you might think differently. Kids who want to be better than what they are , but have no one in their lives telling them they can. Thats what educators are supposed to do . Give kids confidence and make sure they know that they will achieve their goals , but it is in their hands. This principal has done the exact opposite with his actions.

    Life lesson – not everyone wins. its ok to lose. its how you handle the loss and what you do after that makes you who you are.

    These kids don’t know what it is like to lose. Someday it will happen though, and then what will they do ? Shoot up a school? Kill someone? Steal? Give up? They wont be able to handle it thats for sure, what happens after ….well I guess we will see wont we.

    Pride in oneself and ones accomplishments does not equal a braggart. It equals confidence. Confidence did not come easy for me and its something I am still learning. The only way I have gained any what so ever is by learning that I will fail but I can achieve.

  50. mespo:

    some of what you say is true.

    there are many smart people who grow up in poverty and never make it to the level of their ability. And there are many who do.

    I know of a man who started out as a construction laborer and now runs a huge corporation, he never went to college. By your calculus he is an aggressive, greedy son of a b. Which he probably is to have gotten so far in just a lifetime from poverty. He is probably extremely intelligent. He employs thousands of people and pays millions in taxes.

    Maybe we should be teaching children how to do that instead of worrying about killing their spirit if they dont get an award. We should be teaching children to be inner directed, teaching children to be externally directed is only necessary if you want to create automatons.

  51. Lots of people know the value of hard work–including many who were never honor students. My father and grandparents were all immigrants. My father had a high school education. I don’t know how much education my grandparents got back in the “old country.” Still, they worked hard all their lives. They labored in leather factories in Peabody, Massachusetts–the city where I grew up.

    Note: Bob Quinn, one of the men shown speaking in the videos, was married to one of my mother’s first cousins.

  52. If the honors are presented in a better venue and ocassion, then that’s great. But if the reason for discontinuing honors night is just so the non-honor student will not feel bad, then this is just plain simple stupid. Explain to them that honors are given to the great in academics. The same concept that not all those who tried out for the football team are accepted. Should the sport teams also be discontinued so not to devastate those who can’t make it? Why sacrifice the glory of the strong and cherish the weaklings.

  53. Bron,

    I’ll have to agree with that. It’s also a recipe for making a lot of perpetually dissatisfied people who crave the approval of others for validation and their sense of self worth. Awards are nice, but much like fans, if you take them too seriously it can wreck critical perspective.

  54. Bron,

    I’d say teaching kids how to think for themselves and helping them to discover where their talents lie, get a sense of themselves, and develop a “can do” attitude is the best thing we can do for them. Many children have parents who help them along the way; some do not. I think what we’re doing in education today with the major focus on high stakes testing and spending valuable class time prepping children for them doesn’t help them. It’s a very narrow way to educate our youth–and will probably produce a lot of automatons.

  55. I’m sorry but none of that made any sense to me, starting from my “calculus”. Why would I think he is greedy from working hard?

    I didn’t understand at all.

  56. Elaine,
    During the summers during college and for 7 years after college, I worked at a company that made auto gaskets and seals and they had a huge punch press department and a lot of the old timers were missing fingers from the punch presses. Great video. It was good to hear Studs Terkel’s voice again.

  57. “I think what we’re doing in education today with the major focus on high stakes testing and spending valuable class time prepping children for them doesn’t help them. It’s a very narrow way to educate our youth–and will probably produce a lot of automatons.”

    Yep.

  58. my name:

    I was responding to mespo.

    It is good to be recognized for doing well, but friends and family are not going to tell you that you suck. Look at American Idol, when those terrible singers hear they are no good, they really cannot believe it. Their friends and parents have lied to them for years out of supposed kindness.

    There is a problem with young people today, they write a real big check with their mouth but you cannot take it to the bank. They all think they are leaders and have been fed this by their parents. It takes a long time to become good at something, it doesnt happen in a year or 2 and it takes more than just going to college. It takes years of study past college to master a subject.

    Getting approval from friends, family and teachers is Ok but it really doesnt mean much. When I was a kid I used to work for my uncle, he was a hard man and didnt give much praise but when he did you knew you had earned it and you walked a little taller that day and took another step in understanding what was required to do a good job.

    The praise and ego building they do now creates American Idol contestants. People who cannot deliver when it matters are no good to anyone no matter how much “self-confidence” they may have.

  59. Dear god, did anyone here actually read the original article that Turley linked to, including Turley himself? This message thread is a debate over things that never actually happened. What a farce. Try reading the original sources before denouncing them.

    They teach you that, in honors classes…

  60. rafflaw,

    Peabody has changed–so have many of the surrounding communities. There are no more leather factories–or shoe or garment factories–around.
    My father used to tell us how he got up early in the morning when he was a teenager to work a few hours at a leather factory before he went off to school. Like my father, I’m sure you learned what hard work is.

  61. My name:

    “If you saw what I see everyday you might think differently. Kids who want to be better than what they are , but have no one in their lives telling them they can. Thats what educators are supposed to do . Give kids confidence and make sure they know that they will achieve their goals , but it is in their hands. This principal has done the exact opposite with his actions.”

    *******************
    Nothing like teachers telling you can do something even as they publicly tell you “you can’t” while they honor your 13 year old peers for doing exactly what you can’t do. Mixed message much? Child psychology much? You’ve unwittingly made my argument even as you incongruously excoriate the principal who subscribes your notion that encouragement trumps faux glory. ” In their hands” ? These are 13-year-olds there, my educator friend. Maybe during your triumphant rise to success, you missed that obvious point as your scribbled away on your note pad with your nose in a book.

    By the way, life is exactly how a society permits it to be. You want a cut throat educational system. You get one. You want a cut throat capitalistic system. You get one. You want people judging others by their own “accomplishments.” You get that too.

    Now let’s talk more about you, my humble soul.

  62. Brant:

    “Dear god, did anyone here actually read the original article that Turley linked to, including Turley himself? This message thread is a debate over things that never actually happened. What a farce. Try reading the original sources before denouncing them.

    They teach you that, in honors classes…”

    **********************

    Thank you, Brant, for your keen grasp of the obvious that several other commenters already pointed out. We were discussing a more interesting topic concerning the attitude of the achievers as they evaluate those who don’t get the same recognition and whether or not that is appropriate for middle chool kids. Maybe you could revisit your honors class to catch that subtle distinction. Sometimes adults don’t stay within the box others construct. Call it critical thinking.

  63. mespo:

    “Sometimes adults don’t stay within the box others construct. Call it critical thinking.”

    Brant was thinking critically, he must have been told by his parents that he was good at it, maybe even got an award which is still on his wall.

    You ole Simon “Legree” Cowell, you.

  64. I thought this was an excellent discussion. Commenters made so many thoughtful points. As long as it isn’t costing Jonathan Turley any money for his commenters to digress from his original article, I’m all for it and thankful to have the forum.

    And I have to say it: At least 100x better than any discussion on TV news shows. God bless the internet.

  65. Such a poor excuse! He’s dishonoring the achievers and honoring the under achievers!
    He should loose his job over such an unintelligent and foolish decision.

  66. My god stop trying to use big words in order to sound like you have a valid point because honestly 1/2 your posts make no sense. Put down the thesaurus . Thanks.

    You have your beliefs and I have mine. I know where mine got me. You are the one that lives with yours. God bless.

Comments are closed.