No Honour Roll Good For Self Esteem?

When I was a kid, I made the honour roll. Always.

But I didn’t get good grades because I wanted to be on the honour roll. I got good grades because my parents ingrained that expectation in me. If I didn’t do well in school, I was upset with myself, not because my parents would be upset (although they weren’t pleased). That said, it was really nice to get recognition at the end of the year for having achieved good grades.

Recently, a Calgary school decided to do away with its honour roll and academic awards. The explanation is that those who receive the awards don’t really care, and those who don’t get their self esteem and pride hurt.

Now, I don’t know for sure how a kid feels if he doesn’t make the honour roll, but I’m pretty sure that taking it away altogether doesn’t likely make him feel any better. And maybe the kids who get the awards act like it’s no big deal, but I’m guessing they’d be upset if the awards no longer existed. Because even if you take it away, the kids aren’t dumb. They know who did well and who didn’t.

By eliminating academic awards, all you do is take away the recognition that the “brainiacs” were getting. And let’s be real here. The kids who win the academic awards are likely not the kids who are also winning the sports trophies. Sure, there are exceptions, but generally speaking, these are kids of separate camps. I mean, I was no star athlete, nor were any of the other kids in my class who were kicking math’s ass.

Do we take away all the awards then so that no one gets upset they didn’t win one? Do we recognize no one’s excellence in order to avoid making anyone feel less than that?

Life doesn’t work this way, and I don’t understand why schools feel they need to. Recognizing excellence is a good thing, and gives people (kids included) something to strive for–Nobel Prizes, Olympic medals, Stanley Cups, Orders of Canada, job promotions, bonuses, and even gold stars.

I’m not saying we don’t need to acknowledge the kids who aren’t “winning” and their feelings; I’m saying we need to help all kids set goals and work hard to meet them. And this is a job for schools AND parents. It shouldn’t mean taking away the very accolades that we want them to strive towards.