Primary school cancels prizegiving because it discourages non-award winners

Silverdale Primary School has cancelled their end of year prizegiving, and have explained in a newsletter:

End of Year Prizegiving

There has been a lot of talk about the cancellation of the end of year prizegiving. Just to clarify some misconceptions about cancellation of the end of year prizegiving.

1. Sports teams will still be based on skill and a selection process.

2. There will still be placings at school events such as cross country, athletics, swimming, speech competitions. Some of these events have trophies and these will be handed out on the day or at the next assembly.

The end of year prizegiving was used to award children in each class:
– Most improved
– Commitment to Learning
– Classroom Citizen
– Excellence in Literacy and Mathematics

Out of a class of 20 to 30 children how does a teacher choose one child for each award? Don’t we want all our children to improve, have commitment to learning, show citizenship and to have excellence in literacy and mathematics

By rewarding a few we find that it discourages the others.

We are trying to get our children to succeed because they want to succeed and not because of a reward at the end which is subjective at best. The sporting awards are easy to give out, if you win the cross country race you get first, not subjective. Everyone can understand this.

Try explaining to a child that has tried hard all year with their learning that they didn’t get the Commitment to Learning award because someone else was trying harder, this is subjective. How do you judge who tries harder??

We will continue to hand out Principal Awards and Team awards throughout the year, these certificates are based on our values and recognise what children have done.

I hope this goes some way to answer your concern.

From Newsletter 35 (PDF)

Original source: Silverdale [Primary] School cancels end of year prizegiving because it discourages those that do not win awards

Keep in mind that this is at a primary school where they don’t have exams.

There seems to be a bit of contradiction in not giving out ‘subjective’ end of awards but continuing to give out Principal Awards during the year, which must also be subjective. From my experience with Principal Awards (given to grandchildren, they didn’t do them in my day and we called the boss a headmaster) they are rotating awards that include all pupils over time, and often are for very subjective and grand sounding attributes.

Player of the day awards to sports teams are also often rotated.

There are different ways to see this. I understand the need to encourage every child to learn, and never winning an award may well be discouraging. We didn’t get learning awards at primary school in my day and we seemed to survive without them.

But there can also be benefits for awarding those who strive, and who do very well.

Perhaps the Government could follow the lead of Silverdale Primary and cancel the Queen’s Birthday and New Year gong handouts. I have been very discouraged by not winning one (that’s sarcasm – while some community awards and recognition of services may have merit I oppose knighthood and damehood sort of awards).

 

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40 Comments

  1. Noel

     /  November 16, 2018

    Nah Pete leave the lower order gongs in place. That’s where the most deserving are.

    • I don’t mind the lower order gongs. General recognition is fine. However i don’t like the knighthood/damehood pedestal stuff.

  2. robertguyton

     /  November 16, 2018

    Just keep going Pete! You could get a gong, if only you just keep going!!!

  3. duperez

     /  November 16, 2018

    I’ve been to a couple of University Graduations in recent years. For some reason they didn’t just read out first, second and third in each lot with only those being acknowledged and awarded.

    They seemed to mention all those who strove and did well in a whole range of exotic things.

    • Kitty Catkin

       /  November 16, 2018

      I can’t remember the classes of Honours being mentioned at mine.

  4. Corky

     /  November 16, 2018

    Kind of in two minds about this. The above mentioned awards are unnecessary for the stated reasons given, apart from ”Excellence in Literacy and Mathematics.” I say that because a problem with NZ society in general is we don’t honour academic achievement. If you’re jock; thick as a brick, but a good rugby player, you are worshipped. You become a fount of all knowledge and attention. Not so a nerd with an IQ of 160.

    When I was at college I was told off the record I wasn’t selected to become a prefect because I didn’t play sport ( I had discovered surfing).

    However, schools need to be careful. In the real world it’s about winning and gaining scalps.
    You get well paid for that. Children shouldn’t be shielded from that reality.

    • Alan Wilkinson

       /  November 16, 2018

      I agree, Corks. I think kids should have healthy competition to learn to strive for excellence. Teams are good and a wide variety of tasks and skills. But class prizes in primary school seem a bit fatuous and teacher pet risks.

      • Kitty Catkin

         /  November 16, 2018

        i suspect that that wasn’t the only reason you weren’t made a prefect, Corky.

        The idea that NZ doesn’t honour academic achievement is fatuous generalisation by someone who doesn’t move in those circles.

  5. The Consultant

     /  November 16, 2018

    I propose a new award; a New Zealand-wide award for primary & intermediate school kids:

    The Trivial Award.

    • High Flying Duck

       /  November 16, 2018

      Sounds significant!

      • Gezza

         /  November 16, 2018

        Never trifle with trivialities ! ☝
        If we didn’t have them the tv evening news hour would only be 10 minutes long, including the weather.

        • Kitty Catkin

           /  November 16, 2018

          Some US news only has 30 seconds of weather. I imagine that it’s what’s been and what’s coming…no need to faff around with the cause most of the time.

    • PDB

       /  November 16, 2018

      And the winner can get…

  6. PartisanZ

     /  November 16, 2018

    Might be another example of High Flying Duck’s ‘system’s shakeup’ happening in preparation for a “New Golden Age”?

    Perhaps it stands to reason? ‘Industrial revolution’ school exists primarily for the purpose of first identifying then grooming political leaders and ‘captains’ of industry, bureaucracy and academia, and to sort workers into their ‘stations’, including those who will train the next generation the same …

    A great many social and technological changes from the 1960s until now – from Peace & ‘Free Love’ to neoliberalism, computers, the internet and social media have created the need for a ‘Digital Age’ school … which will be quite different … The elevation of the status of ‘nerd’ is one example …

    • Alan Wilkinson

       /  November 16, 2018

      Nerds don’t need an elevation of status. They have the last laugh in the job market.

      • PartisanZ

         /  November 16, 2018

        They didn’t back in the day when the job market handed them a shovel though Alan …

        • Gezza

           /  November 16, 2018

          Nerds never got shovels, PZ. Nerds got jobs as librarians, anthropologists, chemists and physicists. Although one nerd in my class ended up flying skyhawks.

          • Gezza

             /  November 16, 2018

            I suspect you might be confusing nerds with either bozos or drongos?
            Bozos or drongos tended to get issued with shovels n suchlike.

  7. Zedd

     /  November 16, 2018

    I won a couple of ‘prizes’ (books) at High School (top of class).. I thought it was a waste of time & I just got stirred by my class mates.

    Its just part of this ‘winner take all’ mentality B-S 😦

    • Alan Wilkinson

       /  November 16, 2018

      Correct, Z. In real socialist life, losers do all the taking and winners do all the giving.

      • Zedd

         /  November 16, 2018

        thus sez AW..

        BUT.. you are just, totally generalising. Square pegs dont usually fit in round holes though 😀

        • Gezza

           /  November 16, 2018

          in this day and age, square pegs:
          1. don’t have to fit in round holes – they can make their own futures after they leave school
          2. shouldn’t assume that because skool didn’t work for them it doesn’t work for anybody else. They were just square pegs in round holes.

          • High Flying Duck

             /  November 16, 2018

            Round holes are social constructs and you are free to be any shape you like.

            • Gezza

               /  November 16, 2018

              Spoken like a true gender-bending intersexual , HFD. 👍
              That sort of thing goes down well with the rainbow folk and the freaks & weirdos among the Green Party supporter “savages” (as PZ found them to be at the last election) !

            • High Flying Duck

               /  November 16, 2018

              That’s what I was going for :).
              The beauty of the social construct argument is you can use it on any topic you like. There is no counter argument to it because it is meaningless drivel.

  8. High Flying Duck

     /  November 16, 2018

    The thing that disturbs me with the Silverdale school attitude is their implication that by honouring excellence they are belittling everyone else.
    Excellence is something to strive for. Seeing people achieve, and be honoured for achieving academically should be aspirational and motivational.
    Their rational is interesting too. Maybe they should award based on objective measures more and leave the subjective stuff to the teachers.

    • Gezza

       /  November 16, 2018

      I never minded not getting skool prizes at secondary school, even though I got lots of first, second and third prizes (usually books) at primary school. I often got the Religion Prize too.

      • High Flying Duck

         /  November 16, 2018

        Amen brother!
        I won the odd prize at school, but never any major ones. What I didn’t do was look at the kids getting the awards and think because they have done well my efforts are worthless and I should stop trying.

        • robertguyton

           /  November 16, 2018

          Pete says he doesn’t even want one! He does it for…love?

          • High Flying Duck

             /  November 16, 2018

            Some people are self motivated and driven while others need external recognition to perform at their best.
            I guess Silverdale only want the self motivated students to thrive.

            • Gezza

               /  November 16, 2018

              I think if the teachers at Silverdale had any bloody gumption and concern for their pupils they’d be striking not for salary increases but for more money for prizes for every kid, except the ones who never turn up ; if they’re not looking after their nana or doing some other necessary mahi a few of them are probably regularly picking up their own prizes when the shop-owner’s not looking anyway.

  9. robertguyton

     /  November 16, 2018

    Ubuntu.