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Around America, children in Pre-K3 through Grade 5 often receive awards at the end of the school year for academics and arts, music or sporting activities. That can be a lot of fun, especially if the awards reinforces the children’s’ individual real talents.

Many us schools and other organizations award the same certificates and trophies to everyone in a class or sports group, no matter whether the individual achieved anything or not, or even tried.  That policy may not be effective for older children.

For the youngest ages – 3, 4, and 5 – the awards for all may be OK, but reality has its place, probably beginning in the 1st grade. This is even more evident among communities in which parents work hard to get their children into the best daycare, preschool, and primary school environments even before the children are born. That’s overbalancing the pendulum swing somewhat.

Children who win awards for nothing sometimes go on to World Class gymnastics training and receive a cataclysmic shock — They are told the truth about their performances and instructed to improve where necessary. Some gymnastics classes are too demanding and a few have been closed for abusiveness, but the point remains. These children are not accustomed to handling the truth about their performance.

Not everyone wins all the time.

Over-awarded children age, enter the workplace, and are held accountable (some people say “Yes, except in government work” – that’s another discussion).  In fact, under the concept of Continuous Improvement instituted in business in the late 1980s – 1990s, workers are expected to do much more than show up on time and do the basic tasks of the job.

What do you think about easy awards and praising mediocre or unacceptable work? —

via Equality: When Everyone Gets a Prize, Everyone Gets Nothing.


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