Friday 1 July 2011

Winners and losers

I may have posted about this before, but I feel very strongly about school prizegivings.

On the one hand, my grandchildren are not allowed to "win" events at their school sports day. It's all about taking part, you see; there are no winners or losers. But come prizegiving day, things are very different. Those who come top in things - probably more due to their inborn ability than for any other reason - win the prizes, while the poor little also-rans don't.

My two ten-year-old granddaughters are very different. One is top in everything, and wins prizes; her sister isn't, and doesn't. Hence, prizegiving day is a nightmare, because it's impossible to celebrate properly with the one while greiving (and boy, does that poor little girl grieve) with the other. So my poor daughter (who as a child, on one occasion wept all the way home from her own school prizegiving, because she hadn't won anything) went along yesterday, full of dread.

Needless to say, the first child won the form prize, but the even better news is that her sister was awarded a new cup; one donated by an ex-pupil for the child who "has reflected the most the ethos of the school"*. Phew!

The celebration took place at Pizza Express, and now peace reigns. Until next time...

*I thoroughly approve of this prize, because any child might be able to win it, provided they are kind and helpful. And being kind and helpful is a lot more useful in life than the ability to do clever things with pi, or know who was on the throne in 1638.


  1. Is it where you learn to be competitive in the real world. I know the schools want children's school years to be full of fun and learning, but when you grow up life isn't like that and it can come as such a shock.

    Glad you showed them we can all share in celebrating others success.

  2. Schooldays can be wonderful or awful - I was a shy, intelligent child that won prizes - but didn't win popularity. My schooldays were awful. Hated them.

    Nevertheless, I truly believe that instilling in children - I am thinking sports day here - that life is an even playing field is wrong. Life isn't an even playing field.

    I think schools should address the balance of intellect vs ability in prize giving for the most helpful pupil, the most kindest pupil, etc; for whatever our intellect we have a place in the world. We are important in our own right and schools should honour this.

    Anna :o]

  3. I agree up to a point, Jarmara, but it doesn't make sense to apply this rule to sports, whih is a lesser occasion in the school year, but not to prizegiving, which is a very public platform for success (or faulire). I think it should be the other way round; better to learn about success and failure on the playing feld (after all, a race is a RACE; by difinition it has to have winners) than in the more subjective situation of the school prizegiving.

    Anna, thanks for your comments. I think you and I are broadly in agreement. it is ridiculous not to let the fastest/highest/best acheivements win in sport, because they already have!