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If everyone is special, then no one is.



After our end-of-the-year awards ceremony, many children who received nothing were dejected and a few were in tears. Some teachers were incensed because they believe that every child should have received something.

Is there merit in recognizing those who perform superlatively, or would we be better off without such rewards? I would like to hear your opinions.


Asked by Anonymous at 5:09 PM on Jun. 19, 2011 in Parenting Debate

This question is closed.
Answers (18)
  • I believe that excellence should be rewarded. Excellence requires superior effort. If everyone is rewarded, then there is no need for effort and no incentive for those who want to be rewarded to work hard to make it happen. Not always being at the top is a real part of life, and children need to learn this early on. It is especially not going to happen if one isn't willing to work as hard as he possibly can. This is a part of the ploy to make all of us believe that we have to all be exactly the same as everyone else. I don't believe that, and I therefore do not believe that is what we should be teaching our children. If one wants to be rewarded, let him make excellency his goal and then set about working to be excellent.

    Answer by NannyB. at 5:21 PM on Jun. 19, 2011

  • How about a Certificate of PARTICIPATION? That's what we do. We have a level of colors and of course the blue ribbon is for excellence. It's not about being special. It's about motivation to try. Do you have any idea how many simply don't try? If they don't try then they are responsible for receiving nothing, not even a participation cert.

    Answer by Anonymous at 5:25 PM on Jun. 19, 2011

  • From the mother of grown children, I present the following: I have a now 20 year old who has always been at the top of the class, gifted and honored with awards a plenty. HOWEVER, he is NOT a hard worker. He just happens to be one who academics, sports, music...come easily. Why should a B or C student who works very, very hard not EVER get honored, yet a person like my son get lavished year after year? At least my boy is kind, nice and humble-


    Answer by Sisteract at 9:37 PM on Jun. 19, 2011

  • I agree with Sisteract to a certain extent. I was always at the top of my class. I was also the laziest student ever... school came easy to me for the most part, and in most subjects I pulled A's while just phoning it in. My son is much the same... he is very smart, but does not put a lot of effort in. My middle child, on the other hand, is a B/C student most times but works her butt off and is very enthusiastic about everything that she does. She also has more 'soft skills' than my son does... more tuned in to others, more compassionate, more apt to share, etc. Our school rewards both academics and character... they give awards for academics but also have monthly character assemblies where kids who show character traits like respect of perseverence receive recognition. I'm good with this system, because kids get a shot at recognition whether it's for grades or for positive attitude.

    Answer by Freela at 10:20 PM on Jun. 19, 2011

  • I completely agree with the previous poster. What are we teaching kids if we reward them, regardless of the circumstances?

    Answer by katiemomNY at 5:23 PM on Jun. 19, 2011

  • Those parents should use that as a learning opportunity. They won't always win or get a reward. So many young people today are not getting that message and feel they are entitled to everything. Growing up not everyone got a participation award only some who were at the top did. Gave an incentive to do your best. The mentality we don't want to ever allow a child to fail or not be the best is why we have so many who feel everyone else owes them.


    Answer by Anonymous at 11:26 PM on Jun. 19, 2011

  • Awards are for excellence. What reason would a kid have to try for excellence if you get an award just for showing up? These STUPID participation awards just steal the thunder of the kids who actually deserved awards.

    Answer by SWasson at 6:40 PM on Jun. 19, 2011

  • As a 1st grade teacher I feel it's important that I give EVERY student an award of some type. Some students receive 1 award, other may receive 3 or 4 for all their hard work and positive behavior. 


    Answer by skittles1108 at 10:30 PM on Jun. 19, 2011

  • Children need to be encouraged. They don't need to know how the world really works until at last middle school. Without solid encouragement, young ones can give up easily.

    Answer by Kitkat61277 at 11:16 PM on Jun. 19, 2011

  • In life sometimes people win. The rest of the people don't win. If the kids are sad they didn't get an award, they should try harder next time.

    Answer by soflashelley at 7:26 AM on Jun. 20, 2011