The American system of education is under attack. Our test scores don't measure up against other countries. We are ranked 50-whatever in math and science skills compared to the rest of the world. We seem to have fewer and fewer of the top minds. Our global reputation as a country is about as low as it has ever been. Our future itself seems to be in jeopardy.
So how did we get to this point?
I think the biggest reason that we have slipped as a nation is what I call "The Wussification of America." We are raising our kids to be weak, dependent, wusses. Part of the problem is parents, part of it is our education system, and part may even be the government. Sometimes going against what is popular is the most wise direction to take, however.
Everyone seems to agree that changes need to be made when it comes to education. The problem is that the popular changes seem to be going in the direction of making things easier and more comfortable for students, rather than tougher. This is a problem.
There are many examples of this trend. I am going to discuss some of these examples in a few of my upcoming blogs. This brings me to my topic for today:
EVERYONE AUTOMATICALLY GETS A TROPHY
It used to mean something to be excellent. Now every parent has a sticker on their car about how "terrific" their kid is. Congratulations. We have become so afraid of telling our children that they aren't the best at something that we have resorted to patting them on the back and lying to their cute little faces. I am not saying that anyone's kid is not terrific, but there is no need to protect them from the shame of not being worthy of having one of those "My child is an honor student" stickers. Get over it. This "everyone should get a trophy" mentality that seems to have taken over does nothing but promote mediocrity.
Financial expert Dave Ramsey talks about how American students are way behind the rest of the world in most academic subjects, but number one in one area--confidence. Don't get me wrong, I am all for believing in yourself. There comes a point, however, where too much back patting makes a child delusional. One of the best lessons a child can learn is the lesson of dealing with reality. Sometimes we are great at certain things, sometimes we aren't. Sometimes we win, sometimes we lose. That's life. Deal with it. And teach your kids to deal with it.
Michael Sigman writes in his Huffington Post blog that 43 percent of all college students receive grades of "A"(an increase of 28 percent from 1960). He also adds that 86 percent of private school students never get lower than a grade of "B." Even at the college level, we want everyone to feel good instead of pushing them to excel. You get what you pay for, I guess.
The problem with never letting kids fail or be told that they aren't great is that it has the opposite result of what is intended. Instead of giving kids great self esteem and preparing them to take on the world, this practice of sheltering them from anything negative makes them weak and unready to handle adversity.
So, parents, teachers, leaders--do your kids a favor and let them fail every now and then. Let them see what it feels like to lose or not be the best. You will be doing them a huge favor.
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