Not so long ago, competition and ambition was encouraged and believed to be quite acceptable. Such was an integral part of the work ethic and achievement. People were inculcated with the premise that smart (hard) work meant rewards to the ratio of the output of effort. Children who were high achievers were adulated and rewarded with As, trophies, and other type of honors.
However, there were some malcontents who strongly portended that the awarding of trophies, As, and other types of honors were creating a strongly dichtomized society. They maintained that everyone should be equal and that there should be no rewards whatsoever! They assert that no one should be awarded for their achievements and that everyone has achieved, no matter what. The idea of a person winning is somewhat immoral and enforces competition.
This animus regarding competition and achievement gave rise to the premise that "everyone wins a trophy". Some people decried competition, stating that it is inherently evil and against human evolvement. They assert that everyone is successful regardless. Children are taught that all are winners regardless of the effort and work exerted. If one truthfully told a child and/or person that he/she did not achieve at the expected level, it would damage his/her self-esteem and confidence.
As a result of such a premise, children and people believed that they were quite sufficient in themselves regardless of achievements. This gave people a grandiose self-concept and that they were not the problem. This mentality soon permeated the academic and work world much to its utter detriment. What is wrong with achievement and its rewards? Isn't it reasonable to expect that rewards are quite commensurate with efforts produced and that there is nothing wrong with rewarding THE BEST AND BRIGHTEST among us? What is YOUR synopsis regarding this issue?
There was speculation that prior to the 2nd World War there were two different theories of the difference between the raising of children in France and Germany caused the easy surrender of France to Germany.
It was purported that French mothers with a more liberal and cerebral slant on raising their children taught their children when facing a violent confrontation that the child should walk away and seek an authoritarian intervention to quell the disagreement. On the other hand German mothers taught their children to stand up for themselves and if possible take care of the confrontation themselves. If this were true then you can see where the child rearing made all the difference in the world in the childrens adult actions.
On the other hand the French did go to England and eventually the US to finish the fight. So who is ultimately right?
I agree. The "everyone wins" mentality is not helping kids in the long run. It's not reality and will do little to prepare kids for the real world. I think it somewhat takes away from personal responsibility. As a teacher, I saw the concept of personal responsibility eroding more each year. When a student failed, it was never his fault. It was the fault of the teacher, the parents, the school system, the community, etc. I'm sorry, but the student has to fit somewhere in the equation. And I'm talking about high school seniors here - not little kids.
Thank you, habee. The idea and premise that "everyone wins" creates mediocrity. I remember reading an article in which one school decided to not to have anymore honor societies because the children who did not score high enough "would be slighted" and "feel bad". There are going to be A, B, C, and D students. Why should the good students not receive honors in order to pacify the not so good students? Totally ridiculous in the least.
It seems to be the era of false self-esteem based upon self instead of being earned by achievement. Children are now taught "that everyone wins". You do not want to correct the child least his/her feelings get hurt. We are mollycoddling such children by this inane premise that "everyone wins" much to their detriment and failure later on.
Achievements, accolades, rewards, and faliures are an integral part of life. The premise of this type of "equality" only breeds mediocrity. The good student will think to himself/herself, why study hard just to receive a pass. This is totally socialist thinking. There should be just rewards to the ratio of effort exerted. If you earn a high enough grade, you should get the commensurate accolade and/or reward. Rewards are constructive instruments in helping children achieve.
The real world is a system of rewards and failures. Not everyone is going to win the trophy or get the prize. That is Reality 101. When children are inculcated with the premise that "everyone wins and everyone is good", they will be in for quite an awakening when they enter the work world where there are tangible systems of rewards, promotions, accolades, and firings. Those who are subpar will be quite discombobulated when they are fired from their positions for what is deemed to be poor work performance- and they thought that they were doing well all along!
I agree Habee. The problem with making kids "winners" at everything they attempt is that it gives the kid a sense of false achievement. How can the child decide what they are best at and make a decision about what they should do in the future with regards to that if everything they do is met with equal biased information. I blame this on the parent as well as the education system. The impedus of modern education is one of training and behavior of the student and not one of expression and inquisitivity. I ran across this countless times with a gifted child of mine. He was a math wiz who could do calculus in his head but would not spend the time showing his process on paper. The teacher told me that unless he did show it on paper he was going to fail him. My son scored 100% on the answers but the teacher failed him because he would not conform to the teachers methods. I looked at the teacher and asked him if he ever thought of challenging my son with harder work and feeding his talent rather than holding him back to the teachers standard. The teacher had nothing to say in return.
I think that the "everyone wins" approach is only used on very small children. For example, when kids play t-ball, there are no points in some leagues. There is nothing wrong with this. Small children should play for the purpose of having fun. As children get older, they should and are, where I live, taught that not everybody wins. For example, I know of schools where kids who achieve a grade point average of 3.7 and above are honored with a dinner that the parents and children are invited to. Kids who score less than 3.7 are not invited to and are not honored at the dinner.
Not according to obama. Successful people must be punished and the fruits of their toil and dedication must be distributed to those who who do not aspire to put forth the effort it takes to succeed.
gm - I agree with you statements in part, but I support a more detailed and nuanced version.
(1) Once America was focused on achievement, A's, and trophies (too much so in my opinion in that we trained people to only work hard if there was going to be a prize or trophy...and in real life as opposed to school, it doesn;t always work that way.
(2) The pendulum did swing (as you pointed out) too far in the other direction where achievement and competition were minimized and diminished.
(3) You seem to view America as more polarized than I do. We weren't all about competition and achievement back then, any more than we are all about acceptance and mediocrity now (though I agree with you the pendulum has swung). America is more nuanced and diverse than that.
(4) In some areas we never stopped valuing competition - sports, big business, film and music - award shows and astronomical salaries for the few high achievers), certain industries - engineering, science, medicine, aeronautics, etc. - these are competitive fields with hefty financial rewards and awards.
(5) Then there is the sad case of education. Achievement and accomplishment in elementary and secondary schools have declined with out a doubt and we are in the middle of a crisis. (SAT scores have been re -normed - artificially raised. A score today and a score from 30 years ago are not comparable) We let more people into college, but that doesn't mean they are actually graduating. In some disciplines the bar has definitely been lowered, in other disciplines it remains very high - topic for another discussion.
(6) Graduate school and degrees are for the most part still highly based on achievement and effort. At this level you don't get a scholarship because you fall below an income level, you get it because you have performed significantly better than your competitors on a variety of rigorous tests. And I wanted to mention - I can;t speak for high schools, but Honor Societies with rigorous entrance requirements, are still a big part of academic life in American Colleges and Universitues.
Thanks for introducing an interesting and multifaceted topic.
To not recognize participation is just wrong. The only failure in life is not trying. If a child tries, he or she shouldn't get the trophy, but should be rewarded with a certificate of participation for doing the best he or she could. Not everyone will become the doctor or pro football player. But not to recognize a childs "best attempt" at what group they participated in is just wrong. It sends the wrong message! More times then not, many kids are left sitting on the bench, just so the team wins! This discourages participation and sends the wrong message.
This is an interesting discussion, about something that I've often found confusing.
A while ago some research suggested that when kids are overly praised for doing something they naturally enjoy - such as painting, a sport activity or whatever - that their focus for the activity becomes the praise and they no longer get the same inherent enjoyment of the activity. Sorry, I can't point you to the research as it's a few years since I read it. I have however seen this both in my own kids and in myself. When the end or the approval becomes sole purpose of an activity the enjoyment disappears. (Several people have even reported this feeling when doing the Apprenticeship program and it's taken a while for their enjoyment of hubbing to come back after finishing.)
This research led to a move by many people to suggest we say things to kids along the lines of," I see you painted a sky and a tree," rather than, "That's a great painting!" Of course this doesn't always work, especially when it's actually a painting of a sea and a green mermaid.
However, I think the biggest challenge with it is the same as with the "Great painting," method - we are trying to control kids with praise - to make them happy or feel good about themselves. But the toddler who is delighted with the purple splodge he or she has just painted doesn't need our reassurance and praise. It's probably our need to reassure them that leads to them needing reassurance!
While this is not directly about competition, it is indirectly. Why do we compete after all, if it's not get approval and to feel good about ourselves? If winning becomes more important than doing then much of the enjoyment will be lost.
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