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Mediocrity at Its Best

June 15, 2016

I will start off by saying that yes I probably am a terrible mother for saying this, but here goes. Why on earth do we celebrate kids being proficient at school? This goes along with the whole participation trophy syndrome that we as a society encourage.

I hate to say it but life isn’t fair. Just because you try your hardest, do your best, show up every day and express great enthusiasm, you will NOT always win. Often the jerkiest people who rarely show up are the ones who win. But guess what? That’s life. It is what it is. I am not saying that you should stop trying. I am not saying to give up before even attempting. I am not saying go crawl in a hole and cry until it’s over. I am just saying that not everyone is going to win. Not everyone can be the best. Not everyone deserves to be recognized for just showing up. And that is okay. Life can still be wonderful. Life can still be celebrated. Life can still be lived even if you don’t always win.

At the girls’ school’s end of the year awards ceremony I was a bit perplexed why kids were being called up and presented certificates for being “proficient” in reading? Isn’t that why we all went to school? Isn’t the goal at the end of the year to be, at the very least, proficient and move on to the next level? Why do we celebrate kids doing what they are supposed to be doing?  Learning, growing, reading, understanding math, appreciating the history of this great country – these are all things that I expect my kids to complete at school. They don’t need to be recognized for doing their job.

Yes, as kids, their job is to go to school. It’s what life is about. School is meant to set the framework for their adult lives. It’s about problem solving, learning responsibility, taking care of yourself and others. They should be figuring out how to make a budget, complete a project, work with others, be creative, treat people with respect and take care of the earth.

They should not be recognized for barely passing. They should not be recognized for meeting the minimum requirements. Those should be a given. I am not an evil monger, I know that there are kids who might never meet those minimum requirements and there should be programs in place to help them. But there are plenty of kids who have figured out that the bare minimum gets them an award. It gets them showered with praise and celebrated. This mentality is making them lazy. It’s definitely contributes to the entitlement attitude.

Some of these kids are really smart kids, yet they will never amount to much because they don’t have to. We have lowered our expectations of them, and as such they will never have to work hard for anything because we keep handing them whatever they want. By celebrating them for showing up and meeting the bare minimums we are doing them a terrible disservice. We need to be challenging them. We need to raise the expectations. We need to teach them to reach for the stars. We need to encourage them think way outside the boxes.

These kids will be in charge of our world someday. We need their ideas. We need their creativity. We need their medical cures and compassion, we need their technological breakthroughs but we will never get that from them if we continue celebrating them for just showing up. We need to challenge them to rise up and be their absolute best because they truly are the future.

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15 Comments leave one →
  1. Mary permalink
    June 15, 2016 11:57 am

    Yes. Life is not fair and the sooner they understand that the better off they are. They need to learn that working hard is what will get the where they hope to be. None of it is easy. If you want the award work for it. Awards are for achievement not just for being there. Learn more, do more, become more. They don’t give out college degrees for showing up, at least I hope they don’t.
    You are not a terrible mom! Your girls know you expect something more than just getting by and they will their best. Strong mom= successful kids!

    • fixitmommy permalink*
      June 17, 2016 11:19 am

      Thank you for the encouragement, Mary! 🙂 The Big One will certainly never make it to Mars if we don’t raise the expectations.

  2. June 16, 2016 6:05 pm

    I am so glad to see this. I hope it means the pendulum is starting to swing back. Of course, things will never be EXACTLY the way they were when I grew up in the ’50s and ’60s, and we wouldn’t want them to — believe me. But we should find value in the sense of expectation many parents had for their kids, coupled with a complete lack of entitlement. Adults didn’t generally care what we thought — we were “just kids”; what did we know? We weren’t entitled to respect just because we were alive — we had to earn it. In my house with 5 daughters and no sons, it was drummed into us that we would get excellent grades through high school and then go to college. We would get jobs that could become careers.

    On the other hand, no one cared about our “self-esteem”. The fact is, it doesn’t come from praise and awards. That becomes baseless egocentrism. If you learn how to do things that help you live an independent life, and you live up to your responsibilities, you can’t help but feel that you’re worthwhile. You feel competent because you are competent.

    Seeing intelligent parents coming to conclusions like yours gives me hope that the tide is turning. Thank you, Joyce.

    • fixitmommy permalink*
      June 17, 2016 11:21 am

      Thank you Sue! I always love your perspective. I often feel like I am in the minority of the other moms out there and my kids will somehow suffer because of it. But I am finally starting to realize that it’s okay to be the outcast mom! I think my kids will be better adults because of it.

      • June 17, 2016 5:59 pm

        Yeah, your kids are gonna be great! They’ll be the innovators, the explorers, the ones to guide the followers into the future.

  3. June 16, 2016 6:08 pm

    Reblogged this on Space, Time, and Raspberries and commented:
    As the number of parents who understand this grows, the hope for a better future grows, too.

    • fixitmommy permalink*
      June 17, 2016 11:21 am

      Thank you for sharing!

      • June 17, 2016 6:00 pm

        Forget those other moms! Forward thoughts deserve wide attention.

    • Kim permalink
      June 17, 2016 11:30 am

      Happy to read this! Thanks fixitmommy! …and Sue, great perspective!

  4. June 17, 2016 4:25 am

    I happened across this via Sue’s reblog and very glad that I did! I totally agree.

    The UK has always followed what USA has done in such matters. We now see 5 year olds graduating from Nursery School, sometimes complete with gowns and Mortar Boards.

    For goodness sake let them be children, let them learn to play with, and respect, each other naturally with a little guidance here and there when required. They do not need an academic structure when they are babies!

    Mini rant over. I should leave it to those who know best, the young Mums and Dads of the current young children.

    Keep up the good work Joyce (and good luck with the Cookie sales!)

    Peter

    • July 18, 2016 5:33 pm

      Just like here , in Portugal ! We copy everyone else , being it good or bad .
      My now 19-year old (in Uni now doing her third year of Nanotechnology and Engineering) “graduated” from pre-school with a ceremony with handling of “diploma” , signing of the “ribbons” and all the works !!! It was actually cute at the time but what message are we giving these kids ?

  5. fixitmommy permalink*
    June 17, 2016 11:24 am

    Oh my goodness, Peter! The “graduations” are the worst. My oldest daughter will finish up 5th grade on Tuesday. For us that means a jump up to middle school next year. The elementary school hosts a “promotion” and it will take all that I have to keep my opinions to myself when parents show up with huge balloons, flowers and signs congratulating their “graduates.” It’s 5th grade for goodness sake. Thank you for the feedback!

  6. June 24, 2016 3:57 am

    Hopefully the people implementing the systems can apply their God given sense to make sure that children develop into beautiful adults. 🙂

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