A couple weeks ago, I did a major Mommy no-no. I missed the monthly award ceremony at my daughter's elementary school. Although she claimed to be very hurt that I didn't show up, the event in question occurred on a Wednesday afternoon and she didn't mention it until the following Monday while we waited for the bus.
"Why didn't you tell me when you got home from school Wednesday?" I asked.
"I got distracted," she replied.
For five days?
There's really not much ceremony to these ceremonies. The kids receive little plastic charms for being kind, respectful, responsible, and safe. Then they get more little charms for such things as good bus behavior, good lunch room behavior and running or walking a mile in gym class.
Essentially it amounts to stuff they really should be doing anyway. And since most of them are good kids who do what they should do, every single fourth grader gets every single award.
Here's how it works. The principal calls out the names of the kids in each class. They stand up, get their little Responsibility charm, and sit down. Then it's on to the next class until every child is called. Then they do the same thing for the Respect award. And the Kindness award. And, well you get the idea.
As far as I'm concerned it's a colossal waste of everybody's time.
It's been promoted as a way to improve discipline in a positive way. No one seems to understand that when everybody gets an award, it makes the award meaningless.
We still haven't gotten away from that self esteem craze that's been around for the last twenty years. That's the idea that children need lots of positive encouragement to build their confidence. Like my daughter, they have a closet full of awards for doing what they should be doing anyway.
The result is that we are sending kids to college who've got great self-esteem, but can't take any criticism at all. They've been told all their lives what a great job they're doing and just don't understand why their paper came back with all those red-ink comments. (Red ink has been banned in many schools because of its negative impact on self esteem).
There's one more awards ceremony to go to, and I'll be sure to make that one.
But I don't expect to enjoy it much.