Should We Recognize Achievement?

Recognize Achievement.

Nice Achievement!
Courtesy of Free Digital Photos

I strive to see both sides in every argument. I listener and am always willing to consider. I could have been a good judge.

However, I recently heard something that is completely ridiculous. It makes no sense. None.

According to the Huffington Post, a Catholic School in Calgary has axed the honor roll.  The Huffington Post piece says the school did so in order to “protect the pride of students who don’t make the cut.” The article went on to say that the principal wanted to recognize everyone in a personalized way that’s more positive to all kids.


Now, schools are going to take away honor roll. This is insane.

Yeah sure some kids are disappointed and maybe even hurt when they don’t make honor roll. That sucks. I get that. So instead of having honor roll out there as a goal for students to strive for, they are insinuating it is simply better to remove the honor roll.

That’s dumb.

We need goals to strive for.  Kids, adults. Everyone.

Remember, I shared how proud I was of BR for striving to get his yellow belt.  Well, he earned it. The look of joy on his face (sorry I did not get a picture. My wife would have already made an album.) and the pride that radiated off of him was electric.  I would not trade that in for anything. It was priceless on so many levels.

However, in retrospect maybe there should not be stripes and belts. Everyone should have the same color belt. After all there were tests where BR was not awarded a stripe or belt. He felt bad and was disappointed.  He was sad. His pride was dented.

Poor, poor, BR. What a pity!

Noooooooo! How would he have learned the lesson that practice is important? How would he learn that one needs to earn rewards? How would he learn that success is not guaranteed and that one can learn through failure?

How are our kids ever going to learn these lessons if we are always protecting them?

Remember the scene in the movie “Parental Guidance” when Billy Crystal’s character freaks out at a baseball game. A kid strikes out, but in the league, kids keep batting till they get on base; the score is not kept; and every game ends in a tie. Crystal’s character tries to take matters into his own hands. He becomes the butt of the joke.

Yet, I am with him. And it has nothing to do with my love of sports.

We are so worried these days of protecting our children that we don’t let them have real experiences. What will happen when they grow up and winning and losing, success and failure, etc. become a reality?

Either way, we are not fooling them.

Don’t believe me?

This was noted in a recent New York Times opinion piece by Ashley Merryman entitled ‘Losing is Good for You’. Ms. Merryman states, “By age 4 or 5, children aren’t fooled by all the trophies. They are surprisingly accurate in identifying who excels and who struggles. Those who are outperformed know it and give up, while those who do well feel cheated when they aren’t recognized for their accomplishments. They, too, may give up.”

We need to allow children to achieve both at school and in extra-curriculars. Their achievement should be praised and rewarded. For those who are not achieving in a particular area, they should receive encouragement and inspiration and a message. Keep trying.

After all, that is what life is all about.

20 thoughts on “Should We Recognize Achievement?

  1. Recently we’ve had a school district that is doing away with “participation” trophies. Either you win or your don’t, but you will no longer get a trophy for just participating in the sport. There was some backlash – but there was also a lot of support. A lot of the parents agreed that just because their child played didn’t mean they deserved a trophy. They agreed that it was okay to let kids learn how to lose a game and not be rewarded.

  2. A timely post! I realize yesterday that I’ve been hovering over our son, making sure he completes every bit of his homework, because I don’t want him to get a bad grade and then feel bad. But guess what–in the real world he’s going to have a real boss who’s going to expect him to get his real work done for his real paycheck.

    And he’s going to feel so much worse when he gets fired because I’m not there to intercede for him.

    I’ve become the mother I always swore I wouldn’t be!!

    • Don’t be hard on yourself. I think many of use do that because we feel we are being judged if our kids don’t do their homework.

  3. When I was growing up we used to get ribbons for participating. To be honest, I always felt kind of stupid going up and getting one. I was not athletic so I knew I didn’t deserve an award. I did, however, earn honours every year of high school which made up for the lack of sports awards. Are they going to get rid of the awards for athletes too since they’ve removed the academic award?

  4. I definitely agree with you. I loved being on honor roll because I worked for it! It was an incentive of me to get there even if my parents didn’t acknowledge it (which they didn’t) but it made me proud and all of my friends were on honor roll so in some way I was trying to keep up with them. We need things to inspire us and push us to move forward. If there was no honor roll and if I wasn’t trying to stay competitive with my friends I don’t know what my incentive would have been to do well in school.

    And despite all of these efforts to make everyone and equal and not keep score at games, the harsh reality is that you get to college and then the job market and that’s not true at all. Not everyone is a winner, in fact most aren’t. How will kids who have always been “winners” prepare for that?

    • I agree with you. We need to prepare for the real world. We also need to recognize the value of motivation even if everyone wont achieve it. The joy of achieving should not be taken away. We need something to strive for.

  5. Holy Freaking Cats! How in the world are kids EVER going to hold a job, IF they can get one when they are taught that they get as many tries as they want instead of failing at something? I never made the honor roll until I went to University. It mattered to me then. I made the Dean’s list every semester, and graduated Magna Cum Laude with a 4.3 GPA. I was 40 years old at the time. I EARNED my GPA and I earned the Dean’s list honor roll. The only time I got a C in one of my classes, I cried. I was disappointed in myself, so the next semester I tried harder and made an A in the advanced class. Our kids need to learn that they earn what they get. They make the life they deserve by working hard and making goals. Ach! This frustrates the daylights out of me. Bet the kids on the honor roll don’t try so hard to do well now.

    • I know what you mean. I am so with you on this. It annoys me too. We are just too darn soft on kids and they are going to end up missing out.

  6. I agree with you Larry
    don’t know why but hubby & I were talking about something similar (at his office) & I agree that those who work hard should have something (as a reward) & if the other ones feel bad, well it pushes us to work harder if we really want it 🙂

  7. I think that it’s important for schools to both reward high-achievers and also take an interest in (and recognise) the progress of all its pupils in an appropriate manner. If you do the latter, I don’t think that there’s a need to worry about the consequences of singling out a small number of high achievers as much.

  8. What a crazy concept: no honor roll, no winning or losing. In the end, it places too much emphasis on winning and losing. As if our self-esteem is based only on that. Who really cares if you lose a soccer game? I didn’t in the long run. And sure, at the time, it felt bad, but it’s ok to feel bad. In fact, it’s good to learn how to feel bad, so we learn to deal with those emotions.

    Great post, Larry. (your blog, along with others’ disappeared from my reader, ugh, so annoying, not the first time this has happened, hopefully the last though….)

    • Well, I am glad you found your way back.
      Anyway, it is ridiculous in my opinion. We have gone overboard in our concern – too protective and kids lose out.

  9. Larry-

    It amazes me that somehow we have diluted real accomplishment.
    You should be proud of your kid’s accomplishment in karate. And they should be rewarded. Those that didn’t make the cut, as you said, encourage them to work harder. Any readers here, that are interested in a similar take may want to check my take here

    • We are totally on the same page here!
      We dilute in the name of making things, but I think it is harmful in so many ways.

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