This popped up in my Facebook feed this week:
I was immediately nodding my head in agreement and sharing with my friends, many of whom agreed, too.
Coupla things before I proceed:
1. We aren’t even going to address the spanking part of this, though we could, and I’d have a lot to say.
2. I worked for several years in character education. I am wholeheartedly supportive of community building, encouraging kids to find their strengths, etc, etc, etc.
But things have gone way too far.
I didn’t even realize this was an issue until Luke completed his first season of almost-real (read: very modified rules as the kids were like 6 years old) baseball a few years ago. We got invited to a very simple trophy ceremony at the ballpark. Immediately, I thought, “Trophy? They don’t even keep score in this league. There are no rankings. No one won anything!”
Of course, we let him go and get his trophy. We aren’t horrible, mean parents. But I did start having conversations with Luke then about how really, trophies should be reserved for actually winning something meaningful. And this year, when he’s in a league (albeit, a not-very-competitive one, but that’s ok) where records are kept and they got second place, his team is getting a trophy. Good for them.
This really says it all:
I love you, The Incredibles.
Trophies used to be special! They used to mean that you, as an individual or part of a team, did something so exceptional that it should be recognized. Now of course, this also means that not everyone is going to win a trophy, and yes, that can be sad. But for a parent who is paying attention, not winning a trophy provides a wonderful teachable moment.
That teachable moment might include talking about what could be done to work towards trophy status (trying harder if lack of focus or laziness might be an issue) or talking about finding another activity that your child might excel in or how, guess what, not everyone wins every time. Or, talking about times when you the parent excelled or didn’t as a child, and what that’s meant to you as you’ve grown. We all know that everyone isn’t a trophy-winning baseball player. Or artist. Or fill-in-the-blank. But everyone IS good at something.
I loved, when I worked in classrooms, to see teachers really get this. My favorite example is having a board in the room where each kid gets to pin up one piece of work of which they’re most proud. It might be artwork for a student that struggles with academics; it might be an A on a math test for one kid, or a B on some writing that a child found challenging but knew he’d done his best on. Point is? Kids can learn pretty early on to work hard for something they really want, and they can be encouraged to figure out what they’re good at so that they can learn what success feels like. Feeling successful is good. But so is learning from failures, mistakes, and giving something your best effort but still not winning.
We are going to be in a world of hurt when these kids who get trophies for achieving nothing more than being dropped off at practice and their baseball games on time grow up and take over. The issue of fairness is already huge now; can you imagine 20 years from now?
Alright then. I’m finished. Talk amongst yourselves. Thoughts? Do share.