Is it just me, or do our schools sometimes put out contradictory messages, or at the very least, mixed messages?
In this “enlightened” age, when it comes to a lot of sports, some schools seemingly turn their noses up at competition, especially in elementary schools.
For example, if you happen to take in pretty well any kind of game at an elementary school, whether it’s soccer, or volleyball, or basketball, or the less-challenging version of volleyball they call “boundball”, you might notice that even though points are scored at either end of the gym, no score is kept.
I should say, no official score is kept; ask any of the kids playing what the score is, and they’ll tell you. Why? Because it’s pretty natural to have a competitive spirit, to try and do better than your friend, or neighbour.
And yet, schools try to suppress this natural instinct of children by keeping no score, because apparently it’s “more fun” to play that way, and tender feelings won’t get hurt.
It would be bad enough if they kept this to sports, but unfortunately they moved this to school life, if any of you parents of school-aged children might have noticed the report card system now in place.
When those of us who are adults went to school, you got graded; you got As, or Bs (or whatever) and you knew where you stood in a subject, good or bad. Or, in the case of some tests or assignments, you got a numerical mark, like 75 marks out of 80, for example. It was a very straight-forward way to determine whether or not you learned the subject at hand, or if there are areas that you need to improve on.
This sort of evaluation should have been kept, because in real life a person often faces tests, and you better believe there’s competition in the real world too: competition for jobs, for positions within a company, for scholarships to go to post-secondary education, for the heart of a loved one, or in games featuring one’s favourite green-and-white team.
It would be nice if life were neat and clean and nice like a scoreless boundball game — but life is assuredly not like that. What kind of preparation for life are kids getting in a non-competitive environment? None at all.
A seeming contradiction to this is if you attend, say, a track meet put on by elementary schools: they have races, with winners, and losers. What about the losers: are they going to suffer in their self-esteem if they don’t get to win? No, of course not - then, it shouldn’t be an issue elsewhere, like in volleyball matches or on report cards.
How about asking a hockey player who’s in Grade 4 if he’d like a scoreless game? Not likely.