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?”
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.
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.
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
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.