In case you didn’t know, the Academy Awards were on this past Sunday. Each year during these awards, all of Hollywood’s A-list actors turn out in their finest couture to see who will be honored by “The Academy” as the best of their class and which movie will bring home top honors.
This year was no different.
Except that, unlike in previous years, something happened that has gotten me thinking: Ellen DeGeneres made a joke at nominee Bradley Cooper’s expense.
He’d just lost the award for Best Supporting Actor and she came out with a handful of scratch-it lottery tickets, saying the Academy was mixing things up and had decided to send everyone home a winner this year.
Now obviously the Academy didn’t dole out lotto tickets for every poor schmuck who lost their category—but what if they had?
Lotto tickets aside, what would happen if the Academy decided it was too cruel to ask these celebrities to get all dolled-up and come to this big fancy awards ceremony then go home empty-handed, so instead they started giving out consolation prizes to all the losers?
I’d imagine it’d take some of the shine off of the actual wins and would eventually spiral out to having to give consolation prizes to not only the losers, but to the actors who weren’t even nominated, but had at least shown up, and then finally every member of the academy as a whole.
That’d be only fair right?
Merriam-Webster defines an award as something that is given to someone or something for being excellent or for doing something that is admired.
So why would the Academy give an award to someone who didn’t deserve it?
I think this lesson translates directly to our children and how we can sometimes shower them with unearned praise.
Think of all of the kids who play a recreational sport and they get a trophy for just showing up.
Why do we do that?
We put our kids in sports to teach them responsibility and how to work with others—these are things they have to learn in order to be functioning, productive members of society.
They shouldn’t get special recognition or a trophy for just doing what is expected of them.
If that’s the case, I’d like an award every time I wake-up in the middle of the night to feed the boys or change their diaper.
Another example is an allowance. Why should we pay our kids to pitch in around the house when the skills they’re learning in doing so are necessary, not exceptional?
So, why the reward?
But again, if you think chipping in around the house deserves an allowance, please swing by my house. I take cash or check.
When I was teaching high school, we had a system of grading where students would get two grades: an academic grade and a participation grade.
While this seems like a good way of making sure students not only know the content, but also do things that are required (like homework, showing up, etc.), my school unevenly weighed these two grades where the academic grade made up for 90 percent (or thereabouts) of the grade and participation, only 10 percent.
So kids could potentially ace my class without ever doing the homework or classwork that I assigned.
In devaluing the participation grade, the administration was basically telling the kids that they didn’t need to do the work I expected of them as long as they could pass academically.
So whether we tell our kids that even the minimum effort they put into something is exceptional and deserving of awards or that they need not try at all in order to be rewarded (like getting a decent grade), the result is the same - kids start to feel entitled.
And that is one of the biggest disservices we can do to them.
When kids are made to earn what they have, to work for the grades they get or to excel in order to gain exceptional recognition (like an award), then we can know that we’re raising a generation that can do for themselves.
A generation that won’t quit or be off-put because the first time they try something they fail or aren’t showered with praise.
Being forced to earn things gives children an accountability that will help mold them into responsible adults.
And quite frankly, that’s better than any award I can give them now.
Being forced to earn things gives children an accountability...