Wednesday 16 April 2014
I’ll start this post by mentioning that I’m not going to explain the title or the origin of the title. Google it if you’re wondering. 😉
I’m inspired to write this post by something that came up on a current affairs TV show tonight. I say ‘inspired’, but I more likely mean ‘if-I-didn’t-write-a-post-about-this-I’d-probably-explode-because-I-think-that-this-concept-is-just-f*!king-stupid-and-unhelpful’.
So, someone, somewhere, thought it was a good idea that when kids play sport, like AFL football, we don’t score them. We take the competition element out of sport. There are no winners. There are no losers. There are simply kids playing sport. Non-competitive sport.
Okay, I get that some people think that this is a good idea. I, however and quite obviously, do not. I think this is a perfectly sucky idea. I approach this opinion from my position as an educator, because it’s well known (hopefully) that I don’t have or want booger eaters. *Cue the incensed opinions of people with booger eaters.* Yes, I dare to say what is good for kids, and I’m going to go out on a limb and say that competition is good for them.
Kids need to learn about winning and losing. As a society, we seem to be removing that learning opportunity from booger eaters. When a kid has a birthday party, and they play pass the parcel, there’s a prize in every layer of the parcel. When the hell did that become the norm? When I was a kid, there was only ever one prize in the parcel, and that was in the very last layer.
At many school athletics and swimming carnivals, kids are given ribbons for participating in events, even if they didn’t come in first, second, third, or fourth. To my mind, this takes away from the fact that at least four kids in the event are either brilliantly athletic, or work hard to be the best. They shouldn’t have their efforts nullified because some kid gets upset that s/he didn’t place in the event.
As adults, we don’t get a certificate or ribbon of participation for turning up to work. It’s expected of us. We don’t get praised by the supermarket manager for shopping at that store. We don’t get a pat on the back for every single thing that we do, whether we do it well or not. So, why do we feel the need to “encourage” our kids I everything that they do?
Life’s not like that, and sooner or later, the kids need to learn that lesson. Some people win, some people lose, and it’s okay. By allowing kids to see themselves as winning all of the time, I believe we do more harm than good. We are raising people who will be unable to accept or handle rejection and failure, who will expect rewards irrespective of whether or not they have achieved success, who have no understanding that it is okay to fail or lose. This can’t be good for kids. They will be ill-equipped, and unprepared for ‘real life’. Wrapping them in cotton wool, and molly-coddling the future of our society will not lead to strong, better understanding people. It will lead to a society of people who expect rewards and praise when it is undeserved.
Now, before anyone gets their knickers in a twist, I’m not suggesting that kids are put under pressure all the time, and that everything should be made a competition. Too much competition clearly causes immense and undue stress to some booger eaters. What I am suggesting is that where competition is natural, such as in a game or in sport, it is allowed to follow a natural course. We need not necessarily encourage kids to be competitive; they’re bloody good at doing that themselves. Simply, we allow booger eaters to experience competition, experience winning and losing.
Humankind learned to cope with living in a competitive environment, and we survived. However, it seems to me, that these days, we are removing these opportunities for learning, success, and failure, just so some kids don’t have their feelings hurt because they didn’t win. We’re going to end up with a society of sooks, whingers, whiners, sore losers, and bad winners because they don’t know how to deal with competition.
Going back to the point that set me off on this lil rant . . . a football umpire offered his opinion that the scoreboards in junior footy were not actually for the kids but were, in fact, more for the parents who wanted the competition more than their offspring. If that is the case, what harm is there in continuing to score junior footy matches? The kids will be playing because they want to, and the parents can have their winners and losers.
Competition is okay for booger eaters, so let us stop treating them like they’re fragile lil flowers, and teach them that being challenged is a good thing, that losing is an opportunity for them to learn, that failure is a part of life. We keep shouting about how we need to teach our kids resilience, and yet we are taking away perfect opportunities for them to learn functional resilience, not just resilience-in-theory.