Wednesday, January 12, 2011

Abolishing Awards

Chris Wejr's post Death of an Awards Ceremony has caught the attention of the press. The Vancouver Sun ran a story titled Are Academic Awards Losing Favour in B.C schools?

Here is the comment I left:

When teachers or parents make success, rewards, gifts, excellence, treats, fun, grades or opportunities artificially scarce, we alienate and marginalize the very children who need us the most.
Critics might say that abolishing awards ceremonies will only smother children in a cloak of mediocrity. To this I ask the critics why they devalue something simply because everyone can acheive it? Do we wear dropout rates as a badge of honour? I would hope not. So why do we scoff at schools that celebrate every student?
Recognizing every student is no more an exercise in mediocrity than believing all children should graduate from high school.
Traditional Honor's certificates are more about control through seduction and exclusive elitism while the changes that Chris Wejr and his schools have made are more about unconditional, inclusive acceptance and recognition for all students.
For more on the harmful effects of rewards, take a look at these:

Treating Kids Like Pets
Is Learning a Sport?
Catching Kids
Unconditional Recognition
The Risks of Rewards
Punished by Rewards?
The Impact of Awards


  1. The constant bombardment of awards builds a sense of us “giving” the awards, as if they are gifts, and the students are entitled to them. It removes the actual sense of accomplishment, of producing something. Instead of “I accomplished this” it becomes “they gave me this award”.
    The spread of the awards is also supporting this. As we give out more and more awards in an effort to be “inclusive”, it just gives an even greater sense that everyone is winner, in turn creating more resentment when someone isn’t a winner. So, perhaps instead of US “giving” THEM an award, have them give themselves an award for what they feel they have accomplished.

  2. So, if we give up awarding students, then we need to give up so-called "Teacher of the Year", Top Teacher's Blog, etc.

    I'm ready...