The Cheekies

Saturday, May 31, 2014

Awards and U.S. Education

I've been hearing a lot of crap over medals lately, and I'm just sick and tired of it. Apparently, some parents can't manage to understand the idea of what a medal is, let alone handle their children not getting one. Now, depending on where you are, this may or may not be an issue, but here where I live in the U.S. at least, there's a bunch of BS in the air. But to understand it, first you have to understand the American education system. Over time, American education has been slowly struggling to stay up to date with the modern world. Here, the states are responsible for putting their own standards on education within state boundaries, but then localized districts are responsible for managing the day to day aspects. This means that there's a lot of variation in curriculum depending on where you live, and every state has different standards and requirements, so things can look very different. In order to unify and modernize education, starting from the 1970s, the federal and state legislatures began passing a ton of laws to try and regulate general education. This came from a push to have equalized and better education for everyone, and with a bigger emphasis on education on the job market, to try and improve the economy. At this time, there were also radical new ideas coming in to play in the world of education. This movement resulted in hundreds of new programs that popped up, each based on a different philosophy to try and "fix" education. Sounds good right? Not so much. Although many of these proposals sounded good on paper, when it was attempted to try and implement them, many faced large problems. The problem was that each school had different needs, funding ability, and student bodies at different places. These standards sometimes resulted in more problems with schools, and took a while to implement. Not only that, but many of these education fads were sweeping the country, meaning every couple of years, the school would be forced to change. Combined with federal pressures, and a struggle to group low and high performing schools together, schools just started slowly falling behind, so the standards also took a hit and were CHANGED. This meant more emphasis on tests, then collaborative work and "teaching people how to think" rather than "teaching people what to think." This also meant a greater emphasis on children's feelings, and playing on their strengths. By making away with arbitrary judgement or any kind of useful local-level categorization, and instead trying to force generic testing, schools managed to find a way to work around these fads, and new educational oversight and standards.

Now I'm sure you're very interested with U.S. education and all, but what does this have to do with that award bull crap? EVERYTHING. Because of these new developments in education, where more often than not an emphasis is put on EVERYONE winning and participating, many aspects of normal competition have come under fire, including award distributions. You see, it's this kind of mindset that leads to the idiotic parental complaints I'm talking about. There seem to be two main groups of these morons. The first group thinks that in order to make everyone feel good, EVERYONE should get an award. HECK NO. How stupid are these people? Awards are supposed to MEAN something. They show that that person went ABOVE and BEYOND the norm, and did something that deserves recognition. Not that they participated in some stupid activity or whatever. By giving everyone awards, not only do you take away from the people who earned those awards, but you lie to the people who didn't and come to expect to win everything. That's NOT how life works. No one gives a crap that you participated, it's your accomplishments that take the limelight. By telling people that they 'won' when they didn't, not only are you giving them a reward without merit, but you're setting unrealistic expectations. Not only that, but what's even worse is that with older kids, they know when they're getting a "participation" award. Basically a prize that says hey, you weren't good enough to get anything good but we still give you a prize so you don't feel bad. Now, if a participation thing had some prerequisites, or you had to test in, then maybe a small plaque, but in no way like the amount of awards some parents argue for. The second group of people, in my mind at least, is arguably WORSE. They feel that in order to include everyone, but not give out useless awards, NO ONE should get any. They argue that the people who work for awards don't care about recognition. Again, do you HEAR what you're saying? Not rewarding those who don't deserve the recognition is fine by me, but to ignore the ones who do work for achievements in favor of those who don't? That's just another load of BS. Recognition is important; it shows people that yes, others do appreciate the troubles they have gone through, and that their struggles were worth it. It's one of the few ways that people who are really doing good in the world, the people in the front lines, get thanked individually, and can be proud of. This is something we all could see more of in a society that always focuses on the bad stuff in life.

Recognition can be very important to the people who deserve to get it too. For example, scientists. Many times, scientists aren't really recognized by the general public. Many times you see them being portrayed negatively, like for example with GMO's. However, the majority of them still are pushing the boundaries of human accomplishment, and each is very important. If all scientists stopped getting recognition, than the negativity around them would quickly overcome any personal reasons for them doing their ob. They simply would not be able to make a living with what they do. This similarly extends to kids. Let's face it- WE ARE NOT ALL EQUAL. Each of us has different talents and strengths, and the drive to accomplish different things. By forcing everyone, the good and the bad onto the same plane in terms of recognition, you hurt everybody. So please, moronic parents. Quit complaining about your stupid children's inability to matter enough to deserve any kind of recognition, and blaming it on those who really work for and deserve it.