I guess I am old. I graduated high school in 2000. Things have changed in regards to education and I don’t believe many of them were changes for the better. For instance, when I started kindergarten, it was only a half day. That was where we were expected to learn our letters and numbers and how to make friends and follow directions. Now, if a kid doesn’t know that by kindergarten now, he or she is just doomed to failure and in need of extra help because the majority of the kids already know that stuff. They start school younger and younger. I admit, I sent my older daughter to 3 year old preschool and will do the same with my younger daughter, but it’s because they are already so far ahead that I feel they would be bored sitting home with me for another year and they really need(ed) to learn how to interact with other kids and authority figures. I don’t regret that decision, but the pressure that is put on younger and younger kids is a little nuts. Now they have full day kindergarten with homework. Homework! If ever there was something you can do to kids to make them not enjoy going to school, it’s giving them homework every single night starting in kindergarten. Ugh. In my city they are also making 4 year old preschool full day, every day. That seems really crazy to me. My daughter is 5 and still misses me during the day and gets exhausted by the end. I don’t think she ever would’ve survived doing that a year ago. Those are just a few of the decisions that I think are making the education system worse for my children than they were for me. But I think my biggest problem with the education system today is this idea that everybody is a winner.
Well…no, everybody isn’t a winner. If we’re all winners than nobody is a winner. It is the dumbest idea that anyone ever came up with in my opinion. I am of an era where when we had a science fair, there was first, second and third place. And then a participation ribbon that everyone knew was a pointless thing to hand out. Now, as a friend just told me, they don’t even have judges. They have “consultants” and they are instructed to give everyone a good grade and positive comments. Then everyone gets a ribbon, but there is no 1st, 2nd or 3rd place. Could someone please tell me what the hell the point of having a science fair is when there is no winner? No best project? I don’t get it.
What do our kids learn from this experience? They learn that no matter how hard they work, they are going to get the same recognition as the person that put in the bare minimum effort or no effort at all. What is the incentive to work hard and try their hardest? Answer: there isn’t any. Kids start to feel unimportant, unrecognized, and unsatisfied with their lives when they don’t get the recognition they deserve for doing something outstanding. They also don’t have the desire to keep practicing that instrument so they can be the best, or work on that artwork to make it look awesome. They don’t have the initiative to run just a little faster or kick the ball a little harder. What’s the point? Everybody wins anyway right?
On top of not feeling the need to do their best, they get a false sense of entitlement which I believe is pervasive in our society right now. When kids graduate and go to college and get their first bad comments from a teacher, they are devastated. This also affects how parents view teachers as well. When their child is given a bad grade or report, the parents immediately believe that the teacher is biased against their child and is doing something wrong by providing this constructive feedback. How else are our children supposed to improve themselves and work up to their potential, if they cannot ever hear a word of criticism? This quote perfectly sums up my feelings on the subject: “Perhaps if we offered the gold, silver and bronze for actual achievements, kids would learn lessons that better served their needs as adults. Perhaps if we let them lose and teach them to congratulate those who win, we would help them build the motivation and endurance needed to face real life challenges—e.g. sustaining a long-term marriage or securing employment—two very elusive trophies in today’s world.”
It frustrates me when my child comes home proud of herself for doing nothing more than showing up. I feel like if I want to give my child a false sense of accomplishment that should be my choice, but I don’t like the school doing that for me. I’m trying to teach her to work up to her potential and try hard. So when she brings me a piece of art, I don’t fall all over myself if it’s not her best work. I don’t hang it on the refrigerator unless it is. When she does a sloppy job on her homework I tell her. Does that make me a bad parent. No, I think it’s the opposite. I’m creating a child who can deal with the ups and downs of life. She will be able to deal with criticism and learn how to improve from it. She will know that this world does not revolve around her. I believe she will be a better person for it.