What’s with teachers, schools, and school policies today, to give away cups and medals and trophies to every single kid and for every single reason – from participating in a race to drawing a picture to … attending school classes?
A medal for being twenty-seventh in the race?
How about a medal for receiving a medal?
Are we so guilty in our minds that we are ready to award kids’ scribble of a drawing they did at school or ovate their mediocre performance during a school play? If it’s not guilt, then what is it? False pretence? Over-encouragement? Artificial induction of self-esteem? Creating overly confident, self-centred, entitled, and materialistic Narcissists? Aiming at that deserves a medal.
There have been so many books discussing the phenomenon – the-medals-for-everyone one – especially ones referring to the American school system. Although the US leads in the area, Malta, too, makes a valid case. Every kid in school gets stickers or stars or other junk that’s called an award. My son used to get a sticker for eating his lunch at kindergarten. Later, however, I learned that he was moving his own food in other kids’ plates while the teachers weren’t looking (apparently, one did!), so he could still get a sticker. But that’s besides the point. In Maltese schools kids also get trophies even just for participation! The country deserves a medal for that, I guess.
Books, such as The Feel-Good Curriculum, Perfect Madness, The Dumbest Generation, Generation Me, The Narcissism Epidemic argue that parents and school policies overdo things, to say the least – from the kids’ birthday parties, to awarding and encouraging kids all the time, irrespective of the child’s delivery and level of accomplishment. These books also touch upon the media factoring in. Media, factoring in, influencing and affecting kids’ perceptions and value system. Media, specifically certain media content, factoring in the development of young adults who tend to live on the fast lane, who tend to believe that looks is all that matters, who wait to be “discovered”, who don’t know how to save money, who tend to think that “virtue” isn’t a cool brand because no one else wears it. That, of course, is neither all-inclusive nor the only possible end-scenario.
My point here is more of a question. What do I do as a mother when at home, my kids nearly never receive words, stickers, or applaud of praise for what they do, while at school – they are over-flooded by wows and medals. I know that now it’s because my kids are still very young. Perhaps, it’ll be different later when subjects in school get tougher and with that, teachers’ expectations. But even then – I interview teenagers and their teachers and parents for my academic work – I notice that the mentality that prevails is to praise the effort and not so much the result.
Then, won’t constant awarding repose kids from working hard on the activity they were awarded for in the first place, while at the same time, discourage them to work as hard on the ones for which they never got a “medal” for?