Monday, March 28, 2005

Trophy for Participation?

I read an article the other day about the modern day practice of giving children certificates and trophies for signing up and participating in various sports. Evidently someone decided that it is not fair to recognize achievement in things like baseball and soccer since some of the kids were on teams which did not win. The solution is to just give everyone a prize for showing up. In some sports, this is supported by simply not keeping score. In academics, the system has evolved to the point where teachers don't "keep score" during class and students are promoted to the point where they are called to the stage during graduation to pick up certificates which essentially state they lived long enough to go somewhere beside school in the morning.
My feeling on this is pretty much old school but I can see some form of general encouragement for very young children.....say those too young to really be able to perform in any recognizable fashion. There are 3 and 4 year old children on soccer teams and they are really just out there and not really playing the game. At a certain age, say when they start school in the first grade, they need to begin to understand that there are degrees of aptitude and ability and that this is going to be recognized and rewarded as they go through life. The problem is these realities must be supported by the parents and as in so many areas of modern society this is the weak link. Once their little darlings begin to succeed and fail at various activities too many parents seem to think the result is all about them. That is the genesis of the out- of- control parents at Little League games or junior hockey matches. These same or another set of like-minded parents will object or even sue if their kids are not promoted academically. If the parents are too detached to become involved, liberal social pressure is exerted to avoid distinctions which would recognize genuine achievement and insist on passing students who can't read.
So, my conclusion after reading all this concern about trophies is that it is a symptom of a much larger problem and it is the latter which needs addressing more than who gets which trophy at the end of baseball season.

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