30/365: Standing Out

After dropping off my daughter at a friend’s house for their project, we went straight to their school for our bi-annual parent-teacher conference. As was the last time, it was pretty short. T(eacher) said Y was one of the more consistent kids in class. Most kids’ grades, she says, often go down in the third quarter, but Y’s stayed pretty much the same. If this were in the States, I suppose you could say she was an A student. (A note on grades: Schools in the Philippines, with the exception of international schools, give out percentage or numerical grades, as opposed to letter grades.) We’re ecstatic, of course because her hard work is paying off.

Still, we are concerned about how schools and parents sometimes encourage unhealthy competition among children. At the end of each academic year, for instance, their school gives out distinction awards to kids who got the highest score in each subject. There’s also a directress’ list which recognizes the top 10 students of the grade level, although not in a specific order. For the past years, Y has been consistently part of that list, and has received several distinction awards, too. Of late, a couple of her classmates have been asking her what grades she’s been getting every time the report card comes out. She doesn’t tell them, of course, (I forbade her from doing so) but that doesn’t stop them from trying. I suppose it’s because these kids see Y as a threat, their competition for the end-of-the-year awards. Once, when Y was asked to be one of the school representatives in a regional Math competition, one parent complained because she felt her kid deserved the slot more. And then, there was one kid who cried because Y got a higher grade than her in an exam and that her mom will be disappointed again. It’s sad that, at this age, some kids are being conditioned to compare themselves with others.

While it’s good that the school recognizes children’s achievements, there should be a better way to make sure competition remains healthy. Instead of recognizing just the top 10 kids, for instance, they can give awards to everyone who gets an average of 95 up. That way, the kids are left to challenge (and later, if their grades turn out really well, congratulate) themselves, instead of wondering what grades their classmates got. I once heard parents who were devastated because their child didn’t make it to the list. He was number 11, I think, and the difference between his grade and the #10 kid was less than one point.

At home, we often tell Y that getting these awards is not the be-all and end-all of her academic life. It’s just added sugar on the already sweet icing on the cake. After signing her report card, she asked me last night if we were proud of her grades, even if they went down a little. I knew she was just trying to be cute, but I still gave her our usual answer: Always.

About this photo: Don’t you just love fences?

~ by Sheila on January 31, 2010.

One Response to “30/365: Standing Out”

  1. schools impart the education but i guess they do not teach you how to deal with/ survive the competition. its a highly competitive environment out there. and yes, agree w/ your thought

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