re-posted – because you’ve never read it.
Remember when you “made the team”? Maybe you’re old enough to remember when you went to try-outs, struggled through practice, had a number pinned on your shirt as you caught grounders and fly balls and waited your turn at bat. You stood in front of coaches or judges and “nailed it” as best you could, but that “best” doesn’t seem to mean anything anymore. There’s no question that self-esteem is important for a child, but so is accomplishment. Where does self-esteem come from? Through winning or just showing up and wearing a uniform?
Have you been to the soccer games in which every game ends in a 0-0 tie? And have you gagged when you heard that rule? My sister was first-team all-state in softball, and that was as a freshman. Her son is now about to start a much-anticipated high school baseball career. When he was about 6 and playing in some sort of little kids pseudo-baseball league in which about ten kids formed a wall from first to third base, he let a ball go through his legs at shortstop. My brother called to him, reminding him to bend his knees, get his butt and his glove down towards the ball. The coach approached my brother and said, “Sir, we don’t talk to the kids like that here.” Brother said, “What?” Coach said, “We don’t draw attention to their mistakes. We just want to encourage them so they’ll have a good time.” Brother said, “No no. You don’t understand.” Let’s keep in mind my brother has an NCAA National Championship ring for baseball and Mom is in her high school athletic hall of fame. “How’s he supposed to get better if we don’t tell him what he did wrong?” Coach said, “That’s something you can do on your own if you want, but we don’t do that here.”
Now, I recognize that’s a nice idea, but what about the parents who don’t have championship rings or mom’s who were first-team all-state? What about the kids who want to play sports, who want to get better, but there’s nobody in their lives who is capable of doing anything more than driving them to practice and a coach who doesn’t know how to do anything except hand out cotton candy? It seems that we’re becoming comfortable with mediocrity. We’re backing off on the praise for the really outstanding kids because we’re worried about the regular kids who might be unhappy because they weren’t outstanding too. We’re more concerned with feelings than results. I know that there are times when each deserves to come first, but I have trouble seeing that come first on an athletic field. I’m not advocating screaming at a kid who strikes out, but I am adhering to the idea that you learn more from your mistakes than successes. There are many successes that are accidental, and those moments are not going to continue to be successful in the future.
If i guess correctly at a math question involving converting fractions to decimals, my teacher might assume that I know what I’m doing. Then that teacher might also move on to other kids, which isn’t a bad thing. What about next time, when again I guess but wrongly? Then the teacher is going to be less thrilled with me for screwing up, and now I’m starting from behind because I had moved along all this time thinking I knew what I was doing, when really I didn’t. So there’s an instance, albeit extreme, where I was successful but didn’t learn anything. The kid next to me? She got it wrong the first time. She got extra attention from the teacher right away, and now she’s cruising through the third row of problems while I’m trying to get a new eraser because of all the mistakes I’ve made.
In a town I won’t name, there’s a high school cheerleading squad with 30 girls, 30 teenagers with cell phones and a desire to talk trash about anyone else as soon as one of them walks away. It’s a Facebook disaster waiting to happen. Thirty girls is fifteen too many, but the coach isn’t allowed to hold tryouts or cut anyone because the school district is too worried about the wrath of the parents and the self-esteem of the girls who don’t make the squad. However, because they are all guaranteed a spot, they hold no value for it. If the coach isn’t allowed to cut anyone, even for poor behavior, they kids are going to behave like brats, like when some of the girls refused to cheer because they didn’t like the manner in which the coach talked to them.
When the coach finally did attempt to kick a girl off the team, that girl’s mother sent threatening e-mails to the coach, athletic director, and principal. With each e-mail, the coach offered to meet with and talk to the parents in person, but each time they refused and sent more threatening e-mails until finally the school administration put the girl back on the team and reprimanded the coach, all because the cheerleader had suffered “irreparable harm to her self-esteem.” If a coach curses at or touches my kid forcefully, yeah, I want an apology at least. But if my kid is breaking team rules, then I want my kid reprimanded instead. Schools are giving too much power to parents and even more power to the kids.