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Wednesday, April 1, 2009

Everybody's a Winner, She Says Through a Fake Smile and Gritted Teeth

We moms want our babies to succeed, but more than that, we want them to learn that through hard work and perseverance, you will pass beyond average. Hard work and perseverance was what got me through nursing school with straight As. It helped me to pass my nursing boards with a perfect score. It helped D get through West Point and become an officer in the Army. Hard work and perseverance got him a VP position at a very young age.

Last night, I was shocked to find out that, not only were the science fair projects not yet graded, but they were not judged. It seems we've been the victim of the prevalent "We're all Winners" philosophy of teaching.

I couldn't go the science fair, but asked D to take a ton of pictures. He came home with a half dozen or so. Each project showed how hard these kids had worked. The unique projects, the ones obviously done by the parents, the silly ones--well, they were all worthy of ribbons. I understand that. I do, deep down in my heart, believe that every kid deserves to "win".

Really, I do, I'm not trying to be harsh here.

Of course this comes with a big but.

BUT, I wonder what message we are sending to our kids when we offer them all the same award for obviously very different levels of work and dedication. What kind of disappointment does this set them up for in the future? How does this motivate them to work harder next time or that all they did this time was worth it?

Kids are not stupid. That's something I wish more people would remember. They all sneered and rolled their eyes at the flutter of purple ribbons on EVERY project.

I know the intent behind this was good, but it flopped terribly. Getting a generic award means nothing. We owe our kids more.

An education is more than what is written in the curriculum. It's about the life lessons that go along with the text books, papers, and pop quizzes. I bet you remember some of those life lessons more than you remember specific facts that you were taught. This science fair could have done more than get the kids excited about a topic of their choice. It could have been much more. It could have been a pivotal moment for a kid who made a half hearted effort. It could have genuinely awarded very hard work. It could have motivated someone to try harder next time.

But, instead, they all got a purple ribbon that says exhibitor.

Congratulations, you're mediocre.

(Apparently grades come Friday. Joy.)

(His topic: Will captive marine animals form a symbiotic relationship?)

1 comment:

  1. I totally agree with you (go figure ;)
    They do the same things with sports now a days.
    And honestly it is the worse thing you can do for a child. When they get in the "real world" we don't ALL get the promotion and we don't ALL get the window seats.
    They need to know the real world isn't rainbows and butterflies!

    I'm with you sista!!


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