I sat there at the Year 8 prizegiving watching all the academic prize finalists being called up on stage musing on the fact that my child probably scored higher in testing, and almost certainly had a higher IQ than most, he just doesn't 'play the game' and will almost certainly never be a prize winner.
And do you know what? I don't care! My child is great, I love his strength of mind and character to challenge teachers, and I love the fact that he is comfortable in his own skin, not wanting to be a people pleaser.
Know what you mean, although mine does get upset that they can top the class year after year in everything and never get an award!!! It's always the same old, same old, either certain families, or the people pleasers!!!
It must be difficult if you truly feel your child has earned the award (according to the criteria for the award) and didn't get it because of some bias or prejudice. Its also tough if your child's school does not celebrate the things your child happens to excel in (eg some schools make a big fuss about sports, not so much about academics)
On the other hand merely being capable of it ("higher IQ than most") and not doing what is required is a choice. If you and your child have other priorities than the criteria for the prizes, fine, but it is not necessary to disparage kids who put in the effort and do win awards.
My child has plenty of strength of character. She also has good manners, knows how to "challenge" respectfully, works hard and is HG. Sometimes (including this year), she earns awards. She is proudest of the ones she worked hardest for. And I am proud of her.
Mun of 2 - good for you for being proud of your child, despite the absence of school awards. Wonderful stuff to read.
To Hi - I agree with you wholeheartedly. At the primary school my younger child is at, you have to be a certain family to get an award. My younger child represented the school at "zones" in two sports while competing against older kids (ie she was a year younger) and did very well. Got nothing. My child's friend represented the school at "zones" in one sport - got dead last or second to last, I forget which, in her age group (ie unlike my child, did not compete against older kids) got a sports excellence award. All because Mummy complained that the kid is having a hard time, and Mummy gets what she wants.
I have one who doesn't play the game and I absolutely LOVE her strength. I have another who does, yet faces prejudice because she is so 'different' and also NOT the right 'family' as Hi alludes to. And I have a hard time with others who assume that kids who DON'T get awards are perhaps making a choice not to work and not to try. My child, like others, works DAMNED HARD and did damn well at school, yet because of the prejudice against some gifted kids, got NOTHING. It's as if the "most" gifted or the "most" talented kids don't need any recognition. Not at all fair.
Sometimes the absence of awards is about not playing the game. Other times it's all about tall-poppy syndrome, and, not being the "right" family.
Ah well, an extra-curricular event for mine tomorrow. They'll both get awards there. Funny how different it is away from the school environment.
Hi - Yes, it is a case of results without effort (and he's up a year). I think they shouldn't call them academic awards, they should be effort awards ;-), as academic results don't seem to count!
Anon- My boy developed an argumentative learning style because it was the only way he could get the teachers to engage with him at the level he needed to be engaged with. It backfired though! Perhaps my comment about IQ was unnecessary, but I guess it harks back to the comment I made above re 'effort' awards.
I'm not at all unhappy about the situation. He knows if he wants accolades he's got to play by the schools particular set of criteria, he just chooses not to.
I guess we may be fortunate - my child's school gives an "effort" and an "achievement" award in each subject for each level (urban high decile intermediate). Plus a lot of "service" awards separately (so not giving the maths prize to the best helper in maths class for example).
Just getting the top ICAS mark, while tremendous in its own right, I wouldn't think would automatically mean the school prize, which might be judged over all the school tests, Otago etc etc (just speculating). But if they couldn't pick between 3, they should definitely give it to all three, can totally see why you would be annoyed about being told that story!
School prizes can be pretty tricky, esp at primary where objective measurement like exam scores is hard to come by in most subjects. Best as parents we don't give them too much weight I guess.
Good advice, anon. I realise that I get too emotive about these things, and that I will be more objective after some time has passed. My son has had such a hard time at school - his 'giftedness' is rarely seen, his two 'learning disabilities' frustrate him so much, and he appears average and naughty and downright weird most of the time. I really needed recognition/validation for him among the school community. Did he need it, or was it just me? Food for thought....
Me too, you raise some interesting points. Recognition for the child is very important, although their receptiveness for the reason behind the awards can be a little alarming especially if they know it is an award that everyone gets and is shared around the school for little effort.
You are brave to question the need for parents for recognition. I think this is an area in gifted education which has not been fully explored. Every parent who writes on this forum cares about the education of their children. What a blessing our children have.
In the Manukau Courier this week the front page highlighted the saddest story I have ever read, about 14 suicides since April 2011 of very young school age children mainly tongans in South Auckland. The reason, given by the authourities "they had no hope". Our children do have hope because we as parents care, this is our recognition.
One of the reasons some parents some parents get upset when their kids don't get deserved awards or recognition is that our kids have exceptionally strong views on fairness and that can be hard to deal with when they encounter repeated examples of life not being 'fair'. Sure life is not fair and we all have to live with it, but it can be hard explaining that to a young child, and even harder seeing the disappointment in their faces as they understand that it can be a tough old world out there, especially when it appears as if it seems especially hard for *them*.
The absence of an award is nothing compared to what some children experience and for many of us on here, our kids are extremely fortunate, awards or not. But who wants to see his or her child unfairly treated? I sure don't.
Me too - I would have been quite p-d off if I was in your shoes (something very similar actually happened to us once, but not with a maths exam) Sure, it was "just" a school prize, but that's a damned remarkable achievement and should have been recognised. As for whether it was you who needed recognition or your boy - of course your boy deserved it. A kid that bright is going to understand that he didn't get something he deserved. Not fair. So great for your son though that he has a caring Mum.
It's not about wanting prizes or awards - it's about being treated with respect and being treated fairly. And too often that doesn't happen.
Thanks' Refusing to Play' and '#7' for your understanding and support! I consider this forum a safe place to vent (there aren't many) and sometimes in hindsight I wish I had not shared my thoughts - but they are felt so strongly and while they diminish with time, they do remain. Like you said, we realise we are privileged in so many ways, yet we all want the best for our children, and we want their hard-won achievements to not just be recognised, but celebrated, in the same way (say) sporting success is celebrated in many schools. Life with twice-exceptional children can be hell some days, and we need those rare days of celebration, where we see it all come together - when our kids feel the flush of success and are proud of who they are .
Its crazy that this goes on. A friend of mine is a primary school teacher and told me that at her school they don't give top academic awards to the gifted kids, because they have 'an unfair advantage'. Have you ever heard anything so absurd?! I just about flipped out when I heard that. I asked how they handed out the sports awards then. Did they ignore the kids who were naturally good runners etc? Of course not, was the reply. I just hope that this attitude is not widespread.
This seems like such an emotional area for many of us. I can't remember any awards in primary school at all when I was a kid. Did they have them in the eighties? Maybe I just never got any.
My sons school has a nighttime award ceremony where only nominated children are invited. At present my son doesn't really know much about it and I was advised by another parent to keep it quiet.
As it is so secret squirrel I am not sure but it does seem many of the awards have a strong attitude component and my son will never ever win one for his. How can you award a kid who doesn't appear to try and still achieves highly in his areas of strength but his attitude is pretty poor in his areas of weakness (writing, sticking to task). The overall impression is of someone that is making no effort at all.
I have had to face up to the fact that I want the kudos more than he does. I was definitely the kid that had their hand up, was highly motivated and not to mention competitive. My son isn't and I realise it is my disappointment not his I have to face up to. Awards are really the least of our issues but I do feel for all those out there who's kids don't get the recognition that is their due and am delighted for those who do get that chance to celebrate their kid's success. Maybe one day my son will care about these things too but until then neither should I. (Hard though). x
I know many people have already commented on this thread but just really felt I should share my experience.
10 years ago I had a deeply disappointed Intermediate aged child who had thought he would get the Dux award that year. He was/is very bright, gifted across many areas, was consistently getting the top marks in the class/year, was often helping the teacher to teach Maths, etc. The award was instead awarded to his friend who though not as bright was also on the soccer team, in the school band and was more popular and likeable. Though I didn't want to be a biased Mum I felt he had deserved it, especially as I felt there was some bias (the other child's Dad headed the school Board and the Mum worked in the school office).
Fast forward 8 years and the child who won the Dux is now working in a biscuit making factory after dropping out of school in Year 11 after not doing that well in the NCEA exams.
As for our son,afterwards we talked about how life isn't fair, but also there will be many other opportunities to be recognised whether this is for hard work or excellence. Also nice as these public acknowledgements are, they are the icing on the cake and are not necessary for you to feel good about yourself or know that you are good at something. And lastly, though a really "big deal" at the time, it will not be important in the future.
I believe this experience was a motivator for him to work hard if he wanted to be at the top of the class. He worked very hard in his High School Years and got very good marks, was recognised as Top in his year for Maths, Physics and Economics, etc. He is now attending a prestigious college/university in the USA, getting straight A's and having a wonderful time.
So the morale of my tale? Yes it is important that kids are recognised but don't loose sleep over it. Do I really care that he didn't get the Dux now? The answer is a resounding " No". More important is that we focus on the end goal for our kids. Recognition is also very arbitrary; keep in mind that JRR Tolkein's LOTR trilogy was rejected by the Nobel Prize Committee as "bad storytelling".
Hi all - yes it is important to get it into perspective. Our daughter didn't get dux, even though she was winning distinctions in the Australian Maths exam, played rep. sport and was a pivotal volunteer in our community. We simply stopped taking the awards and the school seriously, especially as the girl who was awarded it wasn't outstanding in much but her mum was on the BOT. It's only primary school and like my daughter says now at 15 life isn't fair and we aren't all equal- despite the schools best efforts to make the students fit the boxes. Check out Generation C ( those born in the '90s) - who will use technology to individualise their learning.
Great comments and we all need to play the 'long game' - success is the best revenge! We still need to acknowledge and discuss those feelings of disappointment though, and this forum is a wonderful place to do just that.
I couldnt help but chuckle at this thread - sorry I know Im not meant to.
I REALLY thought my grandson had a really good chance of getting an award - he went to school not reading, writing or spelling AT ALL , struggled at one stage to the point he was having to stay behind at lunchtime (yep in year 0 - but its OK my grandson is a stickler for rules anyway) and then ended up 3 words off the desired level for spelling at the end of year 1, and doing really well in his writing and above the standard in reading.
In addition to that - this kid REALLY "plays the game" and they also have awards for 'outstanding behaviour' ..... and according to his teacher he NEVER misbehaved and ALWAYS followed classroom rules and routines.
Well just our luck - one of the boys in the class is OUTSTANDINGLY exceptional in literacy but REALLY struggles in the classroom situation - so it seemed they used the award for literacy strategically .... and just to be clear I dont begrudge him that at all .... I think its really wonderful to see his strengths being recognised and him not being penalised unjustly.
And the outstanding/greatly improved behaviour award ..... well .... BUGGER - I forgot to teach him to be naughty so he could improve ! Maybe THIS year aye LOL. So easy to take for granted the behaviour of that "nice kid".
I did really like the Principals end of year comments on the Assembly awards though ..... he explained that they only have a limited number for a reason - to ensure they remain meaningful and dont end up with every kid "having their turn" at getting one irrespective of whether they are really deserving.
He acknowledged that some kids may feel disappointed and feel it was unfair because they deserved one - and then told them "and you REALLY may have deserved one" and continued that he was really proud of the students and the effort they put into all aspects of the school and told them to just keep working hard and almost certainly their day to receive an award would come.
Author: had to laugh (discreetly!)
Date: 31-01-12 16:04
My DS's school (which shall definitely remain anonymous! ;-) ) had a series of lead-up practice runs before the cross-country. The kids were timed and encouraged to improve. DS and friend, both reasonable runners, deliberately ran slowly in the first practice, building up to their proper pace by the last. Sure enough, 2 "most improved" awards.
Ah well, up there for thinking as they say...and down there for jogging apparently!
I've had a few laughs at this thread....sounds like nothings changed since I was at school. I didn't expect to get any prizes after my final year at school, and sure enough didn't (not the right attitude as I well knew)
However, my external exam results in several subjects were better than those who won the academic prizes...!
Now my own kids are at school, I've been pushing for awards there to be meaningful, as our school has a culture of Praise plus plus which sees certificates being handed out on a weekly basis
I am assured that these are based on merit, and yet most kids get at least a couple each term. I notice that one of my GT bunch gets much more than the other, yet both have 'good' results and reports. I'm sure its all about attitude once again because I can't think of a better explaination - the cynical one doesn't get the recognition of the one who tries very hard to please.
It probably didn't go down well that he doesn't value bulk achievement certificates either - the end-of-year prize giving is meant to be 'lovely' because every child is recognised - but when they all get awards for basically the same 3 things over and over it becomes pretty meaningless, as he well knows.
I'm all for recognising strengths but I believe it needs to be genuine praise to be meaningful. I'd like to see more awards for generousity, kindness, tolerance, creativity, coping with difficulty, thinking skills, problem solving (go those cross-country girls!) smart ideas, great humour.... there are so many things to acknowlege once you start thinking outside the curriculum.
I would also like to see less of the kind of award that is given for being "a fantastic mathematician" or "an awesome writer" - lets tell our kids the truth and say "working really hard in maths class this week" or "writing a particularly interesting/exciting/long story on Thursday"
I think they deserve it!