19 May 2009

winners and losers again

I want to clarify one or two things after my track meet post:  1)  I'm not necessarily talking about after school sports or sports in general, but the use of competition in the schools as a pedagogical method and the false binary of "winning" and "losing" that is imposed on young children by this paradigm in the schools, and 2)  of course some children gain self-esteem from winning and competing, but I think this type of self-esteem is fragile and built on the misfortune/lack of ability/confidence/motivation of others, and from what I've observed, breeds unhappiness in the winner and loser both.  Winning becomes an addiction for the gifted child and a millstone around the neck of the loser.

(I also want to acknowledge that my daughter's school tries to be inclusive in many ways, and everyone at the track meet was trying to make all of the children feel good about their performances, but those attempts are always transparent to children who always see through those attempts to bandage the wounds of failure.)

I just want a whole new paradigm for the public schools, one that veers away from a hyper-capitalist hierarchy of winners and losers.

That's not too much to ask, is it?

8 comments:

Boyd said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Boyd said...

well clearly you are communist. doubting Captilism and its ideals being pervaded throughout all of our fine institutions, tut tut tut. But since it is no longer 1950 all I can do is shake my head. *shakes head*

(for the recored because it sometimes doesn't come across in type, this was sarcastic)

Marni C. said...

You are so freaking smart. And correct as usual.

Eva said...

Probably too much to ask. But noble to strive for.

Eva said...

This is Christian. The fact that we have very little of public participatory dancing and singing in our culture and the only activity left is sports is very telling. We have a spiritually and creatively bereft culture. Idolatry without magic.

All of Us said...

Not being a big fan of sports in general, I'm more than a little biased on this issue. Max gets a ton of praise at school for his academic abilities, but that same praise has given him a bit of an attitude and a total lack of patience with himself when he's not immediately good at something. We've signed him up for soccer in the fall because we thought it might help with these issues, but I have some major misgivings. I agree with Christian's comment that there needs to be other communal outlets where we all, but especially men and boys, can bond where no one keeps score, wins, or loses. A tough proposition in a community where the priorities are 1) God, 2) Family, and 3)BYU Sports (and not always in that order). It's such a complicated issue.

Luisa said...

I think you made excellent points, Lara. Hanging one's self-esteem on something as capricious as a "WIN" is just unwise. No matter what we are good at, we will eventually meet someone who is better at it. Basing our self-worth on being "the best" at something sets us up for major disappointment.

Going along with what Christian said, another sad thing about our culture's obsession with athletics is that schools tend to have plenty of money for athletic scholarships and athletic programs, and not nearly enough for fine arts scholarships and arts programs. In an ideal world, that hierarchy wouldn't exist.

But I will admit that I LOVE watching the Olympics. To me, athletics are another art form, and it is inspiring to watch people perform feats of strength, speed, and endurance. I'll never be able to run a 5 minute mile, but I like watching people who can. I can play a Bach Sonata, though, so life is good.

Luisa said...

Oooh, my comment is too long, and I got a little off-topic. Forgive me. :-)