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. 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.

    • 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.

  2. 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.

    • 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.

  3. 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.

  4. 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.

  5. 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.

  6. 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.

  7. 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.

  8. “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.

  9. 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.

  10. 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…

  11. 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.

  12. 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.

    • 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.

  13. 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.

  14. 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.

  15. 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.

  16. 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.

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