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Everyone Gets a Trophy… Except In Real Life.

(Photo by Quinn Rooney/Getty Images)

Just when I think I’ve heard it all, an article like the one in yesterday’s New York Post  comes along.  It seems that some students are getting accepted to Ivy League schools and others are destined for Community College or Junior College. Isn’t this the way it’s always been in our education system? There is a “bell curve” with a few at the top, a few at the bottom, and the bulk in the middle. So what’s the problem?

The Academic Version of “Big Brother” — Political Correctness Gone Off The Rails.

The problem is, many school administrators in the New York area, have decided that any mention of one students academic success might hurt the “feeling” of any student who didn’t do so well. If it stopped there, I would not have felt the need to comment on this story, but that’s only the tip of the proverbial iceberg.

In addition to no cheering, hugging, high fiving, butt slapping or any other form of celebration, is a no Facebook posting rule, along with no wearing of any clothing with logos of the school that has accepted you. One student can’t be happy, because that celebration of success and reward for hard work, will hurt someone else’s feelings? And this is not classified as “bulling” the élite — because?

First it was no “red marks” on test papers. They are young and impressionable. Red marks would be insensitive. Then we moved to not keeping score in playground games. It’s more important to play — than to win. And at the conclusion of the game, in order to teach kids what life is really like, everyone gets a participation trophy. Good intentions aside for the moment, what is really happening are your kids are being set up to fail. Plain and simple.

Entering the workforce unprepared

Do you remember your first day on the job? Lots of emotions right? Making your own money, fear of not knowing what to expect, wondering if you can keep the job? Imagine taking that job today never actually experiencing failure. Even worse, never learning how to deal with failure. Learning the Wide, World of Sports opening, “the thrill of victory and the agony of defeat.” Learning how to get up, dust yourself off and start all over again — only stronger this time.

Is this really the time that you want your kids to learn, that in life, they do keep score, and only the winner gets the trophy. That there are things called job evaluations and you do get red marks. And you just might experience something called, “being called on the carpet.” A chat with the boss that can often end with words like, “we are moving in a different direction.” Or, “we’re making some personnel changes” which is code for — they don’t include you.

Survival of The Fittest

In nature there is “natural selection.” Some species are marked for extinction while others adapt and multiply. Today’s military is an all-volunteer military. I don’t think they will teach new recruits that the enemy might not have as many bullets or bombs so you need to share. And the enemy shouldn’t bury explosives so you can’t see them. That’s very unfair.

A lot of combat is learned on the job, but there is at least some preparation to give the soldier some survival skills. Wouldn’t you teach them things to look for while on patrol, or preparation techniques before entering a hostile area? We would never think of protecting our soldiers by not telling them about the horrors of war.

Dealing with life

Children are very resilient. They accept life much easier than most of us. However they need to understand adversity, roadblocks, sacrifice, things working out and things not working out. And most important of all, the outcome is not always permanent. There was a time they couldn’t ride a bike. Then they learned.

They couldn’t read. We didn’t stop them from reading for fear of them reading something bad or fearful or sad. We encouraged them to expand their minds. Now we restrict their emotions. Like introducing baby lambs to the Serengeti. Estimated length of survival anyone? Can they learn what it takes to stay alive fast enough before they no longer are?

Some final thoughts

American’s, for whatever reason, always go overboard whenever they tackle a problem. We swing the pendulum, way too far in one direction, until an opposing force corrects the problem, and forces it back in the opposite direction. I hope cooler heads will prevail in the future and we can go back to “red marks,” winners and losers, and preparing the young to make every effort to “bring home the gold,” — and be proud of it, regardless of who it hurts.

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