Tuesday, June 01, 2010

Congratulations! You know how to breathe!

Why do I have a picture of my kindergartener in a cap and gown?  No, really, why?  Since when is successfully completing kindergarten any sort of achievement?  Especially one worthy of a "graduation" and a "diploma"?

This past Friday was her school's kindergarten graduation party and awards ceremony.  I didn't show up for it, not because I'm a willfully bad mama per se, but because she never got the paper to me for me to know when it was...that, and I recall wanting to stab myself in the neck during those things back when I was in school.

But oh boy, apparently I was the only one.  Apparently graduating from kindergarten is A BIG DEAL for a lot of people.  The type of big deal that requires far-flung relatives and balloons.  Balloons that say CONGRATULATIONS GRADUATE.

Like I told one of the other adults in the office, who also couldn't see the fuss, "Well, for some of these folks it's the only graduation they'll ever have."

So I was sitting there in the office waiting for Miss Linda to show up, and one of the other kindergarteners showed up and excitedly took her award over to show the secretary--who is a wonderful woman, by the way; both of my daughters absolutely adore her.  Of course Mrs. R congratulated her on it, and read it out loud..."Certificate of Participation."

I texted Erik. "Shoot me if I ever congratulate a child on getting a 'Certificate of Participation.'"  I know why they give these out.  It's to protect the ever-so-tender self esteem of the little kidlets.  But really, they're idiotic on a couple of levels.  For one, you're rewarding a kid for showing up some of the time.  (I assume some kids got perfect attendance certificates; to be honest that's an achievement that's never been a high priority for me--I'd rather my sick kids keep their germs at home.)  For another, they're gonna realize that some other kids got a whole bunch more awards than they did. 

Linda got awards for good behavior, excellent reading skills (I haven't been told exactly, but I'm sure she reads above grade level, just as her sister does), Student of the Quarter, and Honor Roll.  Oh, and the aforementioned diploma, which I'd rather pretend never existed.  She did not get a "Certificate of Participation", which reinforces my belief that it's for the kids who earn nothing else.

I congratulated her strongly on the reading and honor roll awards, and less so on the others (though she did get praise for the good behavior award--she hasn't been in trouble even once all year long).  I haven't the foggiest what Student of the Quarter means, so I kind of passed over that one. 

I don't understand why congratulating children only on actual accomplishments is such a hard concept.


Patrick said...

Yeah, this kind of crap bugs me, too. While ostensibly being about "self esteem", though, I can't help but wonder if it's not being driven by the same driving the "critical theory" garbage that's aimed at destroying American culture, although instead of actively trying to destroy what's good, they're doing it passively. If everyone's special, then _nobody_ is special.

Or maybe I'm just rambling.

Bob S. said...


Your mindset is the problem to your understanding this.

I don't understand why congratulating children only on actual accomplishments is such a hard concept.

You expect your children to accomplish things. You expect your children to succeed.

And in some of the schools; that is an oddity.

We have the same problem at our house. We expect our children to do good things -- and they do.

We expect our children to get passing grades and they do.

We compliment them on "good grades" like A's and B's but expect them to be able to get them. We aren't shocked when they do.

When these types of standards are set at home, certificates of participation are a waste.

I bet you've talked to your kids about lessons and things they need to know this year more then some kids talk to teachers in 3 years.

Jay G said...

"They keep coming up with new ways to celebrate mediocrity"...

One of my faves...

TOTWTYTR said...

It's all about self esteem and not actual accomplishment. That's why some schools won't keep score during games and why some soccer league has decided to disqualify teams that beat their opponents by more than five points.

It's worse than mediocrity, it's celebrating underachievement.

It's the sentiment that said that Major League Baseball should have "given" Galarraga a perfect game although by the rules he didn't earn it. I'm sure he felt bad, but I think he would have felt worse if he was given something that he didn't earn.