Editorial: Kids should learn that not everyone is a winner

ParticipationAward.jpgThere are a lot of things said about our generation, Gen Y, and one of the things is our apparent sense of entitlement. And we agree. We grew up in a time where we were coddled into thinking we were great at something, even if we weren’t.

Throughout our life, our parents and society in general have treated us with “kid gloves.” In other words, in this idealized reality, everyone is special.

Our generation comes with this all-inclusive, everyone’s-a-winner mentality. Think back to when you were younger. You might have participated in an extracurricular activities such as recreational sports that awarded trophies or ribbons at the end of the season. In the end, was any child really left without some sort of award? At the very least, children were given some sort of participation award for their involvement.

Another example is when we used to pass out birthday invitations in class. Students are told they must invite everyone of the same gender to the party or distribute their invitations some other way.

There is this need to make every child feel like they’re special, and they are, but that doesn’t mean you have to baby them. It’s harsh, but if a child does something wrong, he or she shouldn’t be praised and given a “participation” ribbon. He or she should be told, “Yes, you did it wrong. Next time you’ll do it right.”

Learning to fail and improve is a valuable skill that a lot of young people are missing. These participation awards are hurting kids later in life.

How long is this need for equality going to persist? Until teachers aren’t allowed to assign grades? Until competitors aren’t allowed to be ranked? The reality of the situation is not everyone is good at everything. Everyone is special and talented in their own ways, and that’s what should be praised.

Not everyone gets into graduate school, or medical school, law school or a professional school. That’s reality. If you want to get into these programs, putting participation awards on your resume won’t work. You have to work hard to rise above your peers. Getting rid of the everybody-wins culture will only prepare kids for the harsh reality of the professional world.

Baylor does a great job of trying to explain to students how things are, without sugar-coating reality. The problem is students come from all sorts of backgrounds. Sometimes, this non-sugar-coated dose of reality is overwhelming.

A prime example of this are students who come to Baylor thinking college will be no problem, they’ll breeze through it just like in high school, only to be given a rude awakening. Not to say their previous education was subpar, but they were not prepared for the reality that they aren’t always going to be able to breeze through class, that they aren’t necessarily going to be the smartest person in their class anymore.

Another example of “kid gloves” that have been used with children is Sesame Street. When the first several seasons of Sesame Street were released, they came with a warning label, “These early ‘Sesame Street’ episodes are intended for grown-ups, and may not suit the needs of today’s preschool child.”

People said Cookie Monster was on the fast track to diabetes, and Oscar had depression.

It’s a kid’s show. In a time where parents think having their children watch Baby Einsteins is going to help their children become smarter, the fact of the matter is that everyone is different, and there’s no need to try and sugar-coat reality through school or TV shows to try to shield children from the harsh reality of the world because then, we as society are doing them a disservice.

They’re better off being exposed to reality sooner, rather than later, so that they will be better prepared to combat the adversities they will face.