After being born in the late fifties, primary school in the sixties and high school in the seventies I went to work as a teacher in 1979 in a society that was hugely messed up. All kind of things were considered old-fashioned and freedom was the word. That lead to several decades of teaching where I saw children without any kind of support or even upbringing from their parents … what you’ve never learned you can’t pass on. The results were sometimes devastating.
Some of these devastating results are now becoming more and more visible. We now see a group of neglected children, sometimes financial but most of the time emotional. Mom and dad both work – and don‘t get me wrong, I’m all for it when it’s necessary – but fail to “manage” their kids. And to compensate for “lost quality time” (I hate that word) their lovelies get all they want and more. Spoiled brats everywhere.
Another result is is the fear of failing … the parents fear of failing. They have to prove they are good parents, even with being at work most of the time, so their child cannot fail. It has to win, to achieve at all costs. Losing is not an option. Making mistakes is not an option. Even schools get into this foolishness sometimes … a wrong answer isn’t wrong, it’s almost good. Saying it’s wrong may hurt. Humbug!!!
On this subject I read an interesting article by Ashley Merryman, op-ed contributor at the New York Times. She tells about the strange situation that children get trophies for just about anything, sometimes just for showing up. It makes for weak students who get into panic-mode as soon as things go wrong because they have never learned to deal with setbacks. Here’s a part I really liked in her article …
In life, “you’re going to lose more often than you win, even if you’re good at something,” Ms. Twenge told me. “You’ve got to get used to that to keep going.”
When children make mistakes, our job should not be to spin those losses into decorated victories. Instead, our job is to help kids overcome setbacks, to help them see that progress over time is more important than a particular win or loss, and to help them graciously congratulate the child who succeeded when they failed. To do that, we need to refuse all the meaningless plastic and tin destined for landfills. We have to stop letting the Trophy-Industrial Complex run our children’s lives.
This school year, let’s fight for a kid’s right to lose!
Amen to that! Here’s the article, it’s well worth the read!