Rewarding achievement above effort

It seems to me we’ve had a culture shift in recent years.  Teachers, coaches and parents now hold “making an effort” with the same importance as excelling or winning.

I’m a soccer Mum (no, not a Palin-styled ‘hockey mum”).  I accept that in the early years it makes some sense to give the “player of the day” award to a different child each week.  At five and six years of age a “player of the day” award can encourage a child to stay in the game, and develop enthusiasm for the game.  When they’re just learning we tend to share around the awards so that the enthusiasm continues.  Saying that, at that age they do understand winning and losing, and the importance of scoring goals.  They do want to be the best in their team, and they do know who the best player in their team is.

At some point though we need to recognise performance and competition.  It is a transition that needs to occur.  Some go down the line of competition being a “bad” thing, and turning up and being part of a team much more important than winning or losing.  That, in my esteemed opinion, is a load of rubbish.  It’s not to say that we should be assessing the achievement of five year olds in the same way that we do for adults or professional athletes.

In exactly the same way that we would assess a Sunday league player differently than a professional athlete, the way to deal with a five year old is very different to a nine year old.  My issue is that there is a growing culture and understanding that turning up rather than winning is enough.  We are breeding mediocrity.

You may have guessed that sport is my metaphor for life.  If we can’t teach winning and achievement as important on the sport field, or indeed the classroom, then why should we expect them to be important in real life?

What is so wrong about parents knowing where their child’s achievement levels are compared to the child’s peers?

Why do we award reaching an average level and then cut down those that are the best in their class?  I’m all for ensuring parents can see improvement in average Johnny, but why does average Johnny have to get an award in assembly just because he turns up?  Does it really matter if book smart and sport-savvy Georgia gets award week after week.  Didn’t she earn it  and shouldn’t we hold her up as an example to her peers in the hope that they too will follow her?  And how much of awarding average Johnny is about edifying the parents as opposed to encouraging Johnny?  Bullshit awards like “for sitting nicely in assembly” are just that… bullshit!

I know the Left (and others) will attack this as being elitist but have they stopped to think what will happen if we stop rewarding achievement and innovation?  It’s simple.  We won’t have any.  We’ll plod on.  As economic units we’ll become increasingly unproductive and we won’t be able to support the public welfare, education, superannuation and health systems that they covet so much.  Oh wait… we are there.  We have reached that untenable point.

I say, bring back achievement.  Bring back winning and losing.  Stop being so bloody protective of our kids and let them experiment, fall over, climb something too high, create and problem solve. Letting children think that mediocre and average is okay just means they’ll continue believing that their entire lives.

Achievement is not just about being book smart, but is about rewarding the best… and encouraging all children to be the best they can be.  I hate how many parents, teachers and coaches limit children by their own experience and limitations.  I for one am glad that titular honours are back – they’re a very public way of knowing that the person in front of us is someone who is the best, and became the best that they could be.

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