There is a movement sweeping the nation right now that all students should be rewarded. They should be rewarded for their behavior, for their academics, and for their sports involvement. There is no longer a first place and a last place. According to the new movement, there is only a first place. In doing this, are we setting them up for failure later on as adults? Isn’t it more important to earn the reward than just have a reward given to you? It appears it is no longer a viable option to punish a student when he or she is misbehaving in class. It seems the days of handing out detentions are a thing of the past. Now, as teachers, we are to have meetings with parents and guidance counselors trying to figure out a way to correct their detrimental behavior. We can’t tell them they screwed up and now they have to spend time after school as a consequence.

 

In today’s society, we are under the impression we have to reward good behavior and reward bad behavior to a lesser extent. Punishment is really not allowed. Because of this, we have teachers taking valuable class time filling out behavior charts and offering treats. What happened to the days when we were allowed to send a student to the principal?

 

Academics have always been the cornerstone of education. We rank the students based on grade point average. Good grades allow students of all circumstances the ability to get into a first-rate college. However, do students earn their grades anymore? Teachers are told nowadays not to hold students back even if they are failing. It makes them dread coming to school if they are not succeeding, so we tell them they are doing fine even when they are not. In doing so, all students are believing their work ethic is great and they can accomplish A’s even while turning in substandard work.

 

Teachers receive constant emails from parents this day and age asking to explain how their child received a poor grade on an assignment. We have to defend ourselves while the parents choose to believe their child is perfect. Do we really want to raise kids in a world where second-rate work is not only tolerated, but celebrated as a worthy accomplishment? Parents will make excuses for their child and ask for exceptions on classroom assignments, quizzes, and tests. Can you imagine this being done fifty years ago in schools?

 

Sports is supposed to be a bit brutal. There is a winner and there is a loser. Winners get trophies and medals and all the other accolades. The losers get none of this. They get a pat on the back and a better luck next year. Recently, all this has changed. Everyone gets participation trophies just for playing. All kids get a medal regardless of the outcome of the game. Is this the way to ensure better athletics? Kids will be conditioned to “winning” even when they are not technically winning.  In life, sometimes you win and sometimes you lose. Those are the cold hard facts. Instead maybe we should be teaching the kids how to lose gracefully instead of handing them a trophy.

 

When did giving a child expectations in behavior, academics, and sports, then quickly backing off the expectations when they are not met, produce good results? I’m all for keeping a child’s spirit intact, but coddling the kid does not help him or her in the long run. They should strive for excellence. Not settle for mediocrity.

 

Encourage a child or teenager to do their very best, but do not lie to them if they do not succeed. Failure is something that everyone needs to learn in life. Defeat can help kids and adults evolve for the better and become more mature and empathetic. Helicoptering and overprotective parents are not helping their child in the long run. They are breeding mini-adults that will instantly expect a win and become crushed when they do not get it in the real world. Students need parents that will let them fail, but still support them by showing them to work even harder next time. Parents need to set an example for their kids on how to behave whether you succeed or fail, not on how to make excuses when failure inevitably comes.

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