I received an interesting piece of mail in my box on Friday. It was from our Title I Aides (a new program at our school). They have apparently been asked to put together a list of awards to hand out to the kids who have been identified as Title I students and have been receiving services throughout the year. We were supposed to rate them according to "improved academic achievement" or "improved attitude towards academics". I heard through the grapevine that someone "in charge of the program" from district office stated that "Everyone will get an award."
I have a serious problem with this.
Lately I've been seeing articles on the net and in the news about how this generation of kids are more narcissistic and self-centered than any before. Some people are linking this to the constant push to let children believe that they are "special", and that everyone gets a trophy for participating. In other words, you show up and you are rewarded. And then I look out at my classroom, at kids who've been socially promoted year after year, at kids who could care less about education, kids who make no effort to do anything and who have learned helplessness down to an art, and I wonder if we didn't create these lazy toads by constantly giving them things they haven't earned.
And coming from a corporate background, where you get promotions and pay raises depending on what you actually produce, and what you can accomplish, I'm convinced they're in for a rude awakening unless they plan on camping out on mamma's sofa for the rest of their lives.
My parents would have kicked my ass if I'd acted like that. But then come to think of it, they never convinced me that I was any more special than anyone else and that I'd have to work to get anywhere in life. It wasn't going to be handed to me.
So, I'm looking at this list and I see kids like Rude Boy who've done NOTHING all year except throw his homework and in-class work away in the trash rather than turning it in, who've lied to me and his parents all year, who've been nothing but behavior problems. I look at the three kids tossed out of the after school tutoring program for horrible behavior, and for refusing to even open a book, lift a pencil or punch in a problem into a calculator. I've see kids who have simply sat in my classroom and sucked in air all year.
And we're going to give them an award?
There's a kid on the list who enrolled in school a week ago from out of state. We're giving him an award? For what? Moving to our area?
Granted there are some kids on there who really, honestly, have earned and deserved awards and I feel they should be celebrated like no body's business. Some of them, including Hockey Boy and Nascar Boy, have made incredible strides - from F's to C's. They've busted their butts, worked hard, and they deserve a big deal. But if the kids sitting next to them, who've done nothing, get an award, won't that make their award a lot less meaningful?
So...the kids that deserved it got a nod from me. The other ones I left blank. I'll let someone else come up with an award for them. Maybe they'll hand them out for breathing regularly.
And Nascar Boy and Hockey Boy and all the others in my classes who've made great strides? I'm going to come up with something special to reward them...I haven't figured out what yet, but I want them to know that what they've done is fantastic and, better yet, it's something they earned.