Personally, as a kid I hated these. As an adult, they’re just as bad. Really I hate sitting still while people drone on about meaningless things in general. (I could be reading a novel with this time! Or doing work…)
Anyhow, recently sat through a 2 hour ordeal for K-6. It started with a 2nd and 3rd grade combined recorder performance. The program claims they were playing When the Saints Go Marching. I will take its word for it. Fortunately the rest of the music wasn’t quite so painful, but I wouldn’t say it was good and man there sure was a lot of it.
In terms of awards, there seem to be two types of philosophies. There’s the philosophy that some of the older and more behind-the-times folks grew up with, in which there are a small number of awards that generally actually mean something. Like you won a spelling bee, you get a spelling award, you had perfect attendance, you get an attendance award etc. A small number of athletic and academic awards based on demonstrated quantifiable performance. These kinds of awards lost favor sometime in the late 80s with the self-esteem movement– the idea is that the kids who don’t get awards feel bad.
The self-esteem movement ushered in the idea that every kid gets a trophy. Everybody gets awards so that nobody feels left out. Ceremonies are long and annoying and meaningless. But hey, everyone gets a trophy. (These would account for my small collection of “most improved” softball trophies. What a waste.)
The K-6 ceremony I sat through seemed to combine the worst of both worlds. Each teacher got to nominate 4 kids for every subject plus a few extras, 2 nominations for “excellence” and two for “improvement”. So, the K teacher, got to nominate something like 32 awards to be shared across her 9 students. The same for all other teachers and their classes. On top of that there were tons of other awards for various forms of citizenship and extramurals etc. (including a “Best Boy” and “Best Girl” just like in Harry Potter). You can see how this might be interminable for the parents.
DC somehow only ended up with one award… “improvement in handwriting.” I figured with hir almost unbroken record of green dots for behavior that ze would at least get “excellence in listening skills” or something. Apparently not. Fortunately DC is still too young to realize that ze was the only kindergartener who didn’t get at least 3 awards, and seemed proud enough to have the certificate of completion. Whew.
Part of it is ze falling through the cracks– with the subjects ze excels at, neither the K teacher nor the 1st grade teacher nominated hir. And unlike the other kid doing the half-day split, DC apparently did not impress the language teachers or the arts teacher or the music teacher.
But seriously, if you’re gonna do the “zillions of awards” thing in which the awards are meaningless, shouldn’t you notice when a kid has significantly fewer awards than everybody else?
If there are only a few awards, then the people not getting them are in the majority. The awards mean something, but not getting one doesn’t mean you’ve been left out. When there are a lot of awards, not getting any means you’re in the minority and maybe there’s something wrong with you.
But maybe it’s a good lesson to learn that unless there’s money or prestige attached, these awards ceremonies are pretty meaningless, and external validation isn’t as important as actually doing a good job. Luckily not a lesson that has to be learned this year.
Ironically, DC got hir second lowest grade of hir career in handwriting in the last grading period.
What’s your view on end of the year awards and awards ceremonies for K-12?