News broke earlier this week that a handful of primary schools across Australia were going to stop handing out placing ribbons or certificates, (blue 1st, red 2nd and green 3rd ribbons) in sporting carnivals in favour of a focus on general development, of kids aiming to beat their personal best rather than their opponents.
I understand the reasoning. Parents and teachers are trying to protect the mental welfare of children and shield them from the mental anguish and anxiety of approaching a race and losing.
The argument is that children shouldn’t be subject to these competitive situations, like swimming and running race, and should instead focus on self-improvement. Advance your talents and the results will take care of themselves.
My problem is this the presence of ribbons and recognition of your place in a race has NOTHING to do with the prize at the end, including ribbons. If you win a race… you have won the race. You know, even the kids. I understand that the focus won’t be on the final positions of competitors but even to kids it is obvious of their results relative to everyone else. Taking away ribbons does NOT take away first, second or third!
If a kid wins a running race by 10 metres, then they know they have won by 10 metres and dominated the field. There is no hiding that even if they don’t technically come ‘first’.
More importantly, and what touches on a wider social issue developing amongst the budding generations, why are we discouraging competitiveness?
Capitalism IS competition. Striving to win and be better than others gives incentive to try and improve. It is easier to see improvements if you compare yourself to the opposition.
In life there are winners and losers, that is the simple fact of life. Why are we trending towards protecting the kids in ‘bubble wrap’ instead of letting them experiencing the world as it is and helping them develop strategies to cope with losing. Learning how to lose and do so gracefully is critical for any young person’s success and mental well-being in the long run.
Imagine the scenario when a young male or female is approaching and preparing for a job interview. The give their all and absolute best but someone gets the nod ahead of them. This is a normal situation, which you’d expect, will happen a great number of times in a person’s life. Will our kids be adequately prepared or equipped mentally for such a setback?
Life is winning and losing, people coming first and last. We should be teaching our school children to cope with these normal aspects of life, not shielding them away.
Sean shared his opinion on the Breakfast Show, which you can hear at the audio below.