Some very interesting comments here and it is interesting how some of them turned into political statements.
There are two different categories of students here from the conversations. The kids that win the awards and the kids that don’t.
We all know that being up for an award and losing ends up to a humiliating or sad circumstance for those kids. I know many adults who are parents that still are upset they were continuously compared to their own friends and siblings but never quite measured up. If people are taking this into their adulthood and still upset, is it an effective practice for them?
On the other hand though, we have the students that win the awards. Research has shown that students winning awards often takes their focus off the important learning that happens in the classroom and has students focus on simply getting the award and “checking off the list” as opposed to deep thinking. Again and again, research has shown that awards are detrimental to critical thinking activities. (Watch this Dan Pink video: www.ted.com/…/dan_pink_on_motivation.html )
With that being said, as a school administrator, if I know that it does not benefit either set of students, how could I go forward with these initiatives? Many people believe that it is being soft or taking something off of an educators plate, but it is actually harder to create lessons that students are engaged in as opposed to having students do something to get a reward.
I also was curious towards the trustee that stated it was nice for them to give out awards to the kids. The fact is, this is not about us, it is about the students we serve.
Schools are not about awarding the best and brightest, but developing the best and brightest. Awards take away from this. We can not let our own bias of our own school experience or beliefs get in the way of what research has told us about effective pedagogy.
It is my obligation to do my best to continuously recognize and honour the strengths of all our students as often as possible, not just once a year. It is more work, but better work for all of our kids.