School Eliminates the Honor Roll
Awards might ‘hurt the self-esteem’ of the dumb students
(Calgary Herald) - When Grade 9 student Andreas Winn, 14, made the honour roll last year, it was a point of pride for him and his parents.
He won’t make the honour roll this year. Not officially at least. And not for a lack of effort.
Administration and staff at St. Basil Elementary and Junior High School, in the northwest community of Tuscany, decided earlier this month to stop recognizing the academic achievements of its roughly 250 Grade 7 to 9 students, axing award certificates and year-end ceremonies.
“They’re telling us that the one per cent of students or so who have learning problems or the group of students who can’t get on the honour roll outweighs the kids who can,” said Winn.
“So we should all stoop down to their level so everyone is happy.”
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But he’s not happy. Neither are many parents and students who expressed shock, frustration and disappointment by the school’s decision and apparent lack of consultation.
Jason Redelback, whose 14-year-old son “hates” the decision, doesn’t think dropping awards and ceremonies is in the best interest of students.
“When you start to take away the recognition of a job well done, what you end up doing is you take away someone’s well-being,” said Redelback. “What they’ve done here is take away something of value and purpose.”
That’s not how officials at St. Basil see it.
In a letter to parents explaining the decision, school officials said, “Awards eventually lose their lustre to students who get them, while often hurting the self-esteem and pride of those who do not receive a certificate.”
That letter also cites the work of education guru Alfie Kohn, who contends that “dangling rewards in front of children are at best ineffective, and at worst counterproductive.”
Praise and recognition will now be immediate through feedback from teachers, not awards. Individualized goal-setting will be prepared by teachers and students. Parents are encouraged to celebrate academic success as a family.
Winn’s mother, Lo, believes awards and ceremonies serve a purpose: they act as an incentive for students to strive for high marks, and prepare kids for university and beyond.
“The students have nothing to work toward,” said Lo Winn. “They need incentive, they need motivation. I totally believe that if a child does well, a child needs to be recognized for it.”
Thanks to Blazing Cat Fur for a heads up on this story.