Having a rewards system is something a lot of parents put in place to help kids learn. My friend and I were just speaking about potty training rewards and good behavior charts and how they really seem to work for some families. Once school starts, there is the honor roll, which seems like a great practice to get kids to strive for good grades. One school doesn't think so -- they ended their honor roll program for kids in grades 7 to 9 because they feared it was hurting the self-esteem of the students who don't make the cut.
I can't help but feel this is just another way we are babying our kids. Students should be honored for their academic achievements -- some set personal goals to make the honor roll each year and, perhaps without it, wouldn't work so hard. But this school in Calgary says the students who do get the awards don't really care about them, and since it's hurting the pride of the kids who don't, they banned honor roll.
This year is the first time my twins are in the public school system. While they are only in Pre-K, they do have monthly "Leaders" who are awarded a certificate. And while I do not consider myself a competition type parent, I will confess that I did wonder why my kids haven't been awarded Leader certificates yet. Are they good students? Are they not exhibiting leadership qualities? Are my kids acting out? I realized I need to save all those questions for parent/teacher conferences. I realized that my 4-year-olds don't really need a Leader certificate. Though I would proudly save it with all their art projects. I realized I was being a little ridiculous.
But is it helpful? St. Basil Elementary and Junior High School in Calgary axed their honor roll program, including their year-end ceremonies for their 250 students in grades 7 through 9. And even though the school letter that went out read, "Awards eventually lose their lustre to students who get them, while often hurting the self-esteem and pride of those who do not receive a certificate," there were many parents and students who are disappointed in this decision and felt these awards were incentives for students to get better grades. Education speaker Alfie Kohn doesn't like rewards when it comes to our kids and education. Some really believe that getting rid of grades is a good thing. We all can agree that our education system is flawed, but are the radical ways to change it going to help?
I'm just now wrapping my head around all of it. Wondering how my children will fare in school, learning their strengths and weaknesses, working with them to always remain positive and healthy in every way. But I can't help but feel rewards lead to scholarships, achievements that kids strive for. And that we can't protect them from failure, but we can teach them how to deal with not being the best at everything. Because that is life -- coping with disappointment will be something our kids need to know how to do now, and especially once they are adults. Perhaps instead of taking away honor rolls, we reward kids for their individual strengths as well, beyond the basic academic.
It's not just the school's job to reward, but ours as parents as well.
What do you think of ending honor roll and awards programs in schools? Helpful? Hurtful?
Image via Robert S. Donovan/Flickr