Friday, May 12, 2006

Win Some. Lose Some.

Normally, when I walk to work, I walk on the right side of the street. This morning, however, as I started up the hill by the athletic field, hordes of tiny little children were walking down the hill and into the gymnasium.

Assembly? Middle School Orientation? Mass Extermination of Little People?

To avoid having to wade through the teeming mass, I crossed the street, which lead to the following conversation with the crossing guard:

CG: You're usually on the other side of the street, aren't you?
Me: Yes, but I crossed over to avoid all those kids.

And, as sometimes happens when one breaks out of their routine, one happens across a semi-blogworthy topic. In this case, it was a bumper sticker on a minivan parked in front of one of the half million dollar (or more) homes I walked past.

Sligo Creek Elementary: Where Every Student is Honored

I suppose this is one of those "self-esteem building" bumper stickers. Probably the parent of some loser kid who couldn't make the Honor Roll if his teachers did all of his work for him decided to display this on her car in response to the My Child is an Honor Student at We're Smarter Than You Neener Neener Neener Elementary bumper stickers.

The more I thought about it, the more irritated I became. Every student shouldn't be honored. Students who do things deserving of recognition -making good grades, excelling at sports, being positive role models- should be honored. I seriously doubt that every student at Sligo Creek Elementary fits that description.

I think it's the whole "every child is special" philosophy that truly gets under my skin. Every child isn't special. Some of them are quite ordinary. And, the sooner they realize it, the sooner they can start learning to deal with it.

Most people aren't special. Life isn't fair. Bad things happen to good people. Molly-coddling children by teaching them the opposite of that does not help them prepare for a full, balanced, and enriched life.

Perhaps a more fitting bumper sticker would be:

Sligo Creek Elementary: You're Not Special and Neither Am I

Sligo Creek Elementary: Where Every Child is Respected

Because in the end, I think teaching children how to respect themselves and others will get them a lot further in life than teaching them that they are special.


  1. Anonymous9:39 AM

    I'm not a teacher, but I do work at a school as a tutor and teacher's aide. One of the teachers suggested I make certificates of achievement for one student, as a way of building up her self-esteem. This girl is going into fifth grade but she doesn't know basic skills such as rhyming or 'harder' skills such as her multiplication tables. She is not in special ed, for whatever reason. I haven't given her a certificate yet, because I don't really think she deserves one. It's a long story, but her behavior and attendance play a part. I wanted to wait to give her a certificate for when she truly earns one. Since school is almost over, I better come up with a reason for giving her one. "Personal Best Achievement" perhaps?

  2. Hey, Anon!

    Thanks for the comment. I am not a big fan of the self-worth-through-a-piece-of-paper approach to self-esteem building, but I guess, since the school year is almost over, you don't have too many other options. Awarding a "Personal Best" is a good idea ... if it truly is her personal best.

    If there were more time, I would suggest projects with tangible outputs that other children could also see and you (and her teacher) could use to recognize the student. Like, she could help you (or her teacher) design and put up a bulletin board. Or write and illustrate a story together. Or create a math-related game that the other students could also use.

    *good luck smooches*

  3. but, i'm special.

    And unique.

  4. Well.

    VUBOQ, you've been a teacher so you know better than me. But I find the 'honor student' bumper stickers annoying, and probably more about the parent trying to thumb their nose at other parents than actual pride in their kid... which brings me to the whole sickening 'parent trying to relive their childhood through their kid' syndrome, with the little-league dads, etc. And even those really annoying signs from a while back that said Baby on Board! Huh? Like we are supposed to be extra careful not to hit your car because you hace aBaby in there?! Whatever!

    I was just watching a Mind of Mencia episode on Comedy Central where he said what I've thought for a long time: you have to have a license to drive a car; you ought to have to pass a test and have a license to have a kid. (this was right after he was cracking abotu Britney and her baby getting dropped on his head and him saying she probably said "Oops, I did it again!" But I digress.

    I think there's a difference between teaching a child that they have value and deserve to have some self-esteem, than what kids seem to be taught recently which is a sense of entitlement, which is going to come back and kick them in the ass later.

  5. The reason our young people can't find the Pacific ocean on a world map? Lowest common denominator.

    The fact is, not every kid is special, and some kids just are better than others. Sure it hurts to be the dumb kid, but having sunshine blown up your ass doesn't do you any favors either.