When Everyone Gets a Trophy, Nobody Wins

EnglishArtsteacher
When Everyone Gets a Trophy, Nobody Wins

Back in 2012, I remember reading a story about a school somewhere in Massachusetts. It made my blood boil.

This elementary school had a unique idea: “Honor Student” awards were handed out alphabetically so that “everybody gets the award, and there are no favorites: it’s alphabetical!” When one of the parents pointed out that his daughter’s last name meant she’d go last — “and that’s hardly fair,” he said with his most worried/frustrated/grim face — the teacher grew nervous, and stuttered through an alternative: “Maybe we could go boy-girl-boy-girl?”

When Everyone Gets a Trophy, Nobody Wins

The school stuck with the alphabet. The ceremony gave a new meaning to the term “Honor Student."

The “everyone gets a trophy” syndrome has become a national joke here in the United States of America. “A” grades, which once conveyed excellence, are now given to 43 percent of all college students, according to a study by grade-inflation gurus Stuart Rojstaczer and Christopher Healy.

This is an increase of a staggering 28 percentage points since 1960 and 12 percentage points since 1988. The study also reveals how easy it is to buy college credentials: a scandalous 86 percent of private school students, it turns out, get nothing lower than a “B.” Granted, it's just one study, and I'm skeptical of studies, but I wouldn't doubt if this was at least close to being accurate.

When Everyone Gets a Trophy, Nobody Wins

In other words, this nation has become a self-parodic reflection of Garrison Keillor’s Lake Wobegon: Thanks to collusion between parents and educators, the vast majority of all private school children are virtually guaranteed to be above average. While their older siblings score good grades whether they deserve them or not, thousands of five-year-olds across Manhattan are busily “prepping” for tests they’ll have to ace to qualify for a small number of what the New York Times calls, “gifted and talented kindergarten seats.” (The city’s Anderson School requires children to score in the 99th percentile on the tests, the Times reports; otherwise their parents aren’t invited to the school’s open houses.)

Some public schools refuse to allow anyone to get a grade below “C,” so no student will ever fail! This explains why two Kansas school districts favor this policy, a spokesman says it’s just like the Army, where no one can “be left behind on the battlefield.” Yes, yes: the playground is a battlefield.Grade inflation promotes ego inflation, the opposite of healthy self-confidence. However, the irony in this, is these kids grow up to be insecure adults because they finally realize this is not a "fantasy world" we're living in. So if anything, we actually have more young adults these days suffering from depression, and a low self-esteem-Especially among Millennial women.

When Everyone Gets a Trophy, Nobody Wins

But the ‘everybody gets a trophy’ mentality basically says that you’re going to get rewarded just for showing up. That won’t build true self-esteem; instead, it builds this empty sense of ‘I’m just fantastic, not because I did anything but just because I’m here.’”

Adults can be as seduced by the narcissistic con as their kids. For years, the fashion industry has engaged in a bizarre but calculated form of “downsizing,” steadily lowering the bar on what used to be standard sizes for women’s clothing.


Financial inflation has given ordinary Americans a distorted idea of their wealth, with devastating consequences. Before the current economic crisis, many "99 Percenters" felt richer and richer year after year as they earned more dollars (though prices soared commensurately) and found they could live in a “better neighborhood” without moving as the “value” of their homes apparently skyrocketed

When Everyone Gets a Trophy, Nobody Wins

Now, with many millions unemployed and 11 million homes underwater, that illusion has been shattered. Today’s hyper-low inflation only makes things worse for most of us, as mega-banks borrow from the Fed at zero percent, while human beings’ savings earn virtually no interest. At the same time, corporate bigwigs bask in a variation of the Lake Wobegon effect, as boards ratchet up compensation packages (and golden parachutes) for CEOs without regard to merit. Phony advocates for “democracy” like to give the impression that nobody’s better than anyone else — not on some abstract notion that we’ll be treated equally before the law, but that “fairness” means we’re all the same.

So, what has earning participation "trophies" turned our country into? A bunch of self-centered, entitled, snobby, and closed minded adults. This trend needs to change before our country goes completely downhill.

When Everyone Gets a Trophy, Nobody Wins
6
12
Add Opinion

Most Helpful Guy

  • heavensgift2girls
    I agree, however a lot of people will take issue with it because they have been raised to believe they are entitled to things like respect and equality in all areas of life. We all want to be fair, but lifting people up that haven't earned it isn't fair to those that have earned it, and it breeds a lot of lazy entitled people. The truth is that individuals aren't equal. In order for everyone to be equal, would mean that we are all exactly alike, and that simply isn't true, no matter how politically correct that way of thinking is.
    Is this still revelant?

Most Helpful Girl

  • kavyareddy2
    Very well said! In this political correct society avoiding hurt feelings is more important than the truth and accomplishments. This is what we call Marxist society.
    Is this still revelant?

Scroll Down to Read Other Opinions

What Girls & Guys Said

511
  • Jackblue
    Good afternoon, I am a narcassistic and self-entitiled millenial. Most schools including all of mine retain the lower than C scores. Actual evidence shows our generation is smarter than yours, here is a website on SAT scores. https://www.huppi.com/kangaroo/L-sat.htm
    • "Actual evidence shows our generation is smarter than yours, here is a website on SAT scores"

      First of all, I'm the same age as you. So I'm not in another "generation." Second of all, SAT scores do not reflect how "smart" students are-Not in the slightest. Third of all, using a random link on the internet isn't a scholarly source in the first place.

      Ironically, your comment makes our generation look pretty stupid ;)

  • kittykatbrat
    I totally agree with your post title & feel this PC world is totally o. o. c

    The outcome = An even sadder herd mentality than what already exists that won't be able to think, move or function without a cheer squad of approval.

  • bcromartie
    This take has a few issues. First, Grade Inflation isn't tied to "Trophyism" at all and existed as a pattern long before this concept became popular. In fact the inflation is due to the economic concept of "signaling", that is, people would reduce adverse selection by comparatively producing more and more degrees and letter marks. Other elements also increase the effects of Grade Inflation including incentives and pressures by the State in order to get funding since that became a metric that schools were based on.

    "Trophism" is instead a by-product of the philosophy that everyone matters, has something to offer, and is special. It is without shadow of a doubt the most damning philosophy in the current ages humans have picked up where instead of conforming to a norm we are encouraged to branch out, often in less than productive ways and even in self-destructive ways, with the intention of defining ourselves as individuals. Individuality has been extremely crippling and as generations continue it is not actually the children who are at fault but the adults, and not the parents of the children, but their grandparents; it is the parents who are raised to believe that their children are amazing no matter what they do or who they are because of the previous generation driving the idea so deeply into their skulls that they cannot wiggle free.

    It is why "useless" degrees exist.

    But do not mistake State incentives ( Some schools won't give less than a C / private schools grade their children higher to stay profitable and competitive over their public counterparts ) for personal incentives ( a trophy for everyone! ) as that is the very root of this problem.

    Empty fingerpointing and complete misdirection of rage.
  • John_Doesnt
    Ever hear the term "Correlation doesn't equal causation"? I'm sure if you actually went to college and got an A you would know that.
    The rise in the number of A's is actually completely unrelated to colleges being lax because the legal standards for a diploma haven't changed at all. The actual change is the ease of study materials and how college has become cheaper. In the 80's students didn't have access to the internet, so in order to get an answer they would have had to drag their butts to the library. Now every student can take 2 minutes to get an answer to all their homework problems.
    Not to mention how many sites offer free tutoring in many major subjects like math and English. It was easy for me to get an A in math not because the homework or tests were easy, but because if I was struggling with understanding a subject I could just ask online and get a suggestion in a few minutes.

    Please don't make an assumption because you make an "ass" out of "u" and "mption".
    • Yes, I know correlation doesn't necessarily mean causation.

      Sure, I can agree the internet has a lot to do with it, as well as easy access to tutoring. However, there is no doubt that professors are purposely inflating grades, or going lax on their classes. I've actually been told by several professors who have admitted to me this entitled generation has practically forced them to do so.

    • And what about hearsay or anecdotal evidence? Neither of which are acceptable to base your opinion of current colleges.
      "A friend said _____" or "I heard from _____ that this happened". You can't live your life based on that. And how do you know professor's weren't doing the same thing in the 80's? Do you have any data from those professors?

      It's because I'm going to a modern college that I understand how a person has to scientifically scrutinize these false claims that college is easier. And if it sounds like I have something against you, well I do. Because you are cheapening my degree if you convince people that modern college grads aren't as hard working.

    • It's an appeal to authority, and I see nothing invalid about asking professors-Some of them who have taught college students for decades, and finding out if this is true or not. I will believe professors who have taught college students for decades before I believe another guy my age.

      I just graduated from college last year myself. I'm not going to try, and defend modern day college students-At all.

    • Show All
  • Waffles731
    America. “A” grades, which once conveyed excellence, are now given to 43 percent of all college students, according to a study by grade-inflation gurus Stuart Rojstaczer and Christopher Healy.

    Well part of that is probably because we stopped grading on a curve
    • Depending on the class average, grading on a "curve" can help you out. For example, if the class average of a class is a 50 percent, than that 50% equals a "C" grade. In classes which are NOT graded on a "curve", the class average would be an "F."

      And believe it or not, some schools still "grade on a curve"-Even colleges.

    • Waffles731

      And its bullshit,
      if the average in a class is a hundred percent then a hundred is a C

    • I actually disagree with grading on a "curve."

      While that may seem odd for the author of this "MyTake" to say, I think grading on a "curve" is the extreme opposite end. There needs to be a happy medium.

      If most students get an "A" in a class, that's the teacher's fault for making it too easy, OR it just happens to be there are many brilliant students in that class. They deserve an "A."

  • PT1911
    And this is where I believe one of the most basic principle of encomics is visibile: the more of something there is avalible, the less value it has
  • Phoenix98
    I agree hundred perfect, competition breeds excellence and losing breeds a desire to win and get what the winner got, that leads to effort to get better at something and hard work.

    If you give a kid a trophy for just trying their best or participating then what incentive does that to give them to try their best or even try at all? and further what why should the best best players or participates even bother if their hard work and effort isn't going to be rewarded and that they'll get what everyone else gets?

    There is a 1st, 2nd and 3rd place and there are winners and losers in life, decide which one your gonna be, because life does not hand out "participation* trophies it beats you to your knees who you don't try your best to be the best. some of my best memories were losing because it drove me to become better and to kick the winners off their stands and take their place, through hard work and effort.

    Great take.
  • Hopefuldreamer8
    The participation awards actually made me feel worse. They weren't handed out often, but we always knew if they were handed out, it meant we didn't actually do a good job. We were just getting them so we wouldn't feel bad about losing. I didn't like being rewarded for something I didn't deserve. It made me feel more like a loser.

    Also, as someone with a learning disability. It was rare I got top marks in class. The one time my project ended up getting top grade. So for the first time in my life I actually earned that reward. However, a couple of people made a big stink about the fact that we all worked hard on the projects, and it wasn't fair I was rewarded and no one else was. So it ended up taking meaning to my reward when everyone else got one, even the class slacker. He was actually one of the ones who complained, and he didn't even do anything. He copied someone else. So he got rewarded for copying someone basically.

  • BellePepper
    My usual example for participation trophies is this: When I was in high school I was accepted into the All-State Honor Choir. This was a BIG DEAL. I was the first person to be accepted from my school in over 16 years and the only one from my county.

    But, choir is a group activity and there is no competition to say that one person is better than another. Just being there is the accomplishment. So the participation plaque that I got from the choir is really important to me. My life has gone in a very different direction now so it's nice to be able to look back and remember that time.
  • MrAtticusLebowski
    I think we're missing the point here. It's just a cheap plastic trophy. Said trophies don't raise self entitled children... adults do. Look, people need to start taking responsibility for raising inconsiderate adult assholes.

    We should just get rid of grades from public schools all together, just go off a pass/no-pass rubric. I mean, adults mostly just see it as free daycare.

    The college thing i agree with, I've never liked the idea of being graded on a curve. The one thing that's damaging the weight of College grades is for profit schools. That's why most of those degrees don't mean shit.
    • I meant the acquiring of a plastic trophy makes people "feel" special. And you can't blame it on the parents when their kids turn into adults. Once you're an adult, you're on your own, and you can make your own decisions.

  • TheAngryBanana
    lossing ain't all the bad in my eyes it helps me learn where i went wrong and i can implament it for future tasks :D
  • ThePetSquirrel
    Participation trophies are the absolute worst. They're just another example of political correctness acting as a blockade for reality. If the goal for these trophies is so "no one loses" then that's a grave mistake, because firstly, the kids that did lose will still be picked on, and maybe even more so, by the kids who won; and because there will be no motivation for improvement.
    I know I became better at whatever it was I was doing if I lost because I was pissed and unsatisfied, participation trophies do the opposite. Saying that everyone's a winner can cause the newer generations to have a completely backwards mindset. Reality is that you're going to fail a lot both as a kid and an adult, get over it and become better.
  • MixedGirlBL
    Second place is the first loser ! 😂
  • Anonymous
    This is such a good take 👏🏼👏🏼
  • Anonymous
    What if I told you I still felt special even though everybody got a trophy wife because when my child was born the doctor gasped because the baby hold shinny golden skin?
  • Anonymous
    I dont think private schools are just buying grades. I live in a relatively deprived town in the uk. It's renowned for having a large proportion of unemployed people living off the state. My local atate run school has a 25% gcse pass rate which means 75% of people dont get 5Cs and above including English and maths. Last year only 1 person got even a single A* which is the highest grade (not even that hard to get; I got 9).

    I went to this school for 2 years and Id say 80% of the kids just do not want to be there. The teachers spend nearly all their time trying to keep the order. They messed around. Homework was an abstract concept. And the running joke was that half the kids sitting the exams were stoned.

    Attending private school what struck me was not that the teachers were particularly better. The facilities were in actual fact worse since my old school had recently received a huge grant and so it was a new, fancy, Swedish designed school. The only real difference was that the pupils were motivated, hard working, and everyone had aspirations for their lives. The teaches expected great things from the pupils. Anything below an A* was not good enough whereas before a C was great.

    My parents didn't buy my grades. They bought me a great atmosphere and working environment that allowed me to prosper in my studies.
    • I used to attend private schools, and I actually agree with you. Students which go to private schools tend to be harder workers in general.

      However, there is no doubt that "buying grades" happens more often in private schools than public schools.

    • Anonymous

      The only 'buying' of grades I've seen has been some pupils will pay for some tutoring if they need help. I dont see anything wrong with that though

    • I'm talking in terms of very wealthy parents paying teachers off for better grades.

      In all actuality, it's probably pretty rare-But I know it happens.

    • Show All
Loading...