JONATHAN JANSEN: School awards: to give or not to give, that is the question
Awards set the bar high and recognise achievement, the awards evening carries a powerful, even counter-cultural message: we value and reward excellence
Fortunately, as schools integrate — some more than others — the award winners are no longer so easily predictable by race or ethnicity. Talent is normally distributed.
It’s that time of the year again. Awards season. I have about half-a-dozen awards evenings to speak at this year and the question has been troubling me. Should schools give awards? To be sure, prize-giving night is a big deal for schools and the children, not to mention the parents. A lot of time, energy and money goes into making the evening special. For once, parents come to school not to discuss a disappointing report card, behavioural problems, or new policies from the department. This is a joyous evening where everyone appears positive and indulges in good food afterwards. Or is it? As a veteran of awards evenings, I’m not so sure. Think of the intense competition for the mathematics prize or the “best in the grade” award. Somebody’s heart will be broken. Spare a thought for the child who has to come, with their parents, all dressed up in school uniform, and whose role is simply to observe and applaud the winners as they cross the stage smiling and hugging one or more trophies....