As many of you know, I am a die-hard Cincinnati Reds fan, mainly due to my love for the game of baseball. I remember back in Little League, our league commissioner came up with a "fantastic" idea: To give everyone a trophy, regardless of anything else. Regardless if the team or athlete was any good, or worth any value, the kid still got a trophy. A participation trophy.
I'm not going to lie, back when I was twelve years old, I thought this was awesome! My team that year finished with a losing record(I can't remember our exact record, but we played roughly 15 games) and I thought it was awesome that we got a trophy! It was awesome, because....another team that season finished undefeated and we got the SAME trophy they did!
Now, as an adult, I see the danger here. I see how this was a terrible idea. Why is that? Because it ruins any incentive to do better. It didn't surprise me that the following season(after this new idea was implemented), kids would skip practices, "lollygag" during games and not try that hard. There wasn't any undefeated teams and many of the kids noticeably did worse during their games. Why? Because those kids realized they didn't need to try hard to get a "reward." They knew they were getting a trophy and they didn't need to do better. Sure, you have those competitive kids(like me) who would try hard, just because of bragging "rights" and because competitiveness is instilled in me. But most kids don't fall into this category.
Now, as an adult....I realize that nobody won that season. Nobody won because everyone got a trophy. I remember there was a kid that year who batted over .400(which is outstanding), and I was ranked the best pitcher in my league. But none of that mattered.
When I say trohpy, I not only mean literally but metaphorically as well. I'll use a college class I had last year.
This class I had was a class which every English Education teacher was required to take. It was a class which dealt with the pedagogy and theories of how to teach English and how we can meld content. It sounded soooo interesting and I was excited for it. My professor that semester was in his first year at teaching at Miami University(the college I attend.) He told us right off the bat the class was an easy A.
And...he told the truth! It wasn't just an easy class, it was actually pathetic. His class average that semester was a 98% and the semester before that, it was over a 100%(because he offered extra credit.) 104% to be exact. That literally blew my mind. Keep in mind, these are classes with roughly 30-35 students, all studying to be English teachers.
Why was his class so easy? Because the class was a joke. He had to cancel ten classes that semester(out of the possible 24 classes total.) Granted, they were due to his wife's poor health(which was sad) but due to this, we didn't get graded on class participation or attendance. No biggie, right? Ok fine, this wasn't. His class was composed of Four two-page reading responses, which were graded on completion only. I remember writing one of them, which was not on the subject OR the reading, and he still gave me full credit for it.
He also had a mid-term exam but it was online and we did it at home. All we had to do was give our opinion on each prompt. I got a 100% and I "BS'd" the entire Exam. We did something called an "Ignite Talk", which is basically a speech in font of the class on a learning application. I got full credit, and I prepared this speech for about a half an hour.
He did have a final teaching portfolio we had to do. He warned us he would grade this one "harder", which isn't saying much. I ended up getting an A but it wasn't an A+ like every other assignment. I ended up with a 96% in the class, and sadly, I finished BELOW the class average(98%.) Do you know how devestating it is to get an "A" in a class and STILL finish below the class average?
Don't get me wrong, I didn't and will NEVER complain about a class which is an easy A. It was a great stress reliever and I was just happy to have one class I didn't have to worry about. But to be fair, I feel like I was cheated. I didn't learn much at all(I didn't have a reason to), and he was a completely ineffective lecturer. It also made me feel a little guilty that my grade was the same as someone else who actually did try hard and take the class seriously. But the worst part is, when some students(not me included) do have to take a class which is challenging or they may struggle in, they will crumble.
This is an ongoing problem on college campuses(and for some high schools.) Professors purposely inflate grades, to endure their tenure AND to make students happy. So let's assume(just an estimation) that 70% of college professors on a college campus practice grade inflation. When a student does end up taking a class with the 30%, they crumble. They cry, panic, call their parents, threaten the dean. Thanks to giving students an A for participating, they don't know the reality. Who cares who's on the President's List anymore? Random fact: In the 2013-14 school year at my college, there were a record number of students who made the Dean's AND President's list. While this was celebrated, it's actually quite sickening.
I remember reading a story a few months back where a middle school in Maryland was going to quit doing the honor roll because the students who didn't make the honor roll felt "left out." This enraged me, because it creates a generation of students who are entitled. It will obviously cause honor students to quit working hard, since they know there isn't an honor roll anyway.
My overall point is: Participation "trophies", whether literal or metaphorically, are harming this country.
-They're creating a generation of entitled adults, which is no good.
-They're setting kids up to face no failure; when in reality, everyone will face failure at some point in their lives.
-They're treating all kids the same, regardless of work ethic.
-They're killing any incentive to work harder.