For 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