Day 171 (of 183) just because I don’t like awards doesn’t mean I don’t try hard
The actual quote I often think back to was from a Batman comic in my youth. As typical Batman is up against a very strong antagonist. At the penultimate moment the villain claims because Batman does not kill he is weak. Batman ends the discussion by clarifying: just because he doesn’t fight to kill doesn’t mean he doesn’t fight to win.
I’ll admit I can be very competitive – some of my colleagues may recall how our classroom took ourselves out of some school wide competitions (most orders for ____) because we wanted others to have a taste of what victory was like. But it was in a learning community where we were competing for fun and there were times we “lost” but as I would point out, the real winners were the recipients of whatever challenge were undertaking. I don’t mind losing events either. That’s part of competition.
And today was our district track and field day. Some students were out to win a ribbon. Some were out to challenge themselves. I liked a couple of my students “playinup” – that is signing up for the “open” race that is the one that only grade 7s are allowed to run in. But I had a couple students who “wanted to run with the big dogs” – not because they thought they would win, but they wanted to know how they would do. Another school had a boy that is without a doubt the fastest in district, but took himself out of a running race (and a sure top finish) because he always wanted to try long jump – an event he’s good at, but not top in the district at. But he didn’t need (want?) another acknowledgement of a skill – he wanted to try something different.
And I liked how a colleague shared a story of a volunteer who had shared how she missed swimming. Or as he explained it to his wife, ‘think she misses competing’ – she responded ‘I think she misses winning’ – final response from him: what’s the difference? And I liked it. I’m good at being competitive – but sometimes being first (tech, eportfolios, socio-emotional focus) means you gotta wait for others to catch up 😜 and I LOVE it when we get leapfrogged and need to ‘catch back up’ – because the winners are always the kids!
And my evolution as I continue to think about competiton through a variety of social media forums remains hypocritical:
I don’t like “awards” but I do like badging (acknowledging certain accomplishments) and I know that token needs to look different for each person. I limit “awards” at assemblies and follow the lead of @chriswejr who speaks much better on this topic than I can: http://chriswejr.com/strength-based-education/thoughts-on-awards-ceremonies/
Some need the ribbon. Some a trophy. Some worry about the devalue via giving an award to everyone (and some parents making a big production about it. First world problems).
Here’s my thoughts:
If kids have to do it (like a school sports day) ensure everyone gets a ribbon/token for everything.
If it’s a choice (of the student, not their parent not teacher) then I’m good with a limited amount of ‘things’ (ribbon trophy certificate whatever)
If it’s “an award” then the criteria needs to be shared early on. And I say that with my daughter just receiving an award for “top overall grade 10 student” which I am proud of her for getting (heard a lot of great words and stories about her) but when I ask about criteria, I often hear (my experience here) hee have “most improved/top/best etc – who do you think should get it”. Working backwards. I’d feel a lot better if there was clear criteria being used. And if four students qualify, great – celebrate a shared award.
And be wary about why you are giving attention to things. I know schools that give ‘perfect attendance awards’ out in order to raise awareness to absenteeism – but is it an award for the kids or their parents (I know cases where it is each) – not saying it’s bad, but be mindful of the “why”.
And for me, just because I’m not actively looking for another ring to add to my trophy case doesn’t mean anything as to what “may happen next” but I know it will have to be very …… important. And I alway like a new challenge -and like a career hockey pool I’m in….it sometimes pays to play ‘the long game’……I may not always be winning…but there’s always a ……..yet…!😎