I was perusing the “site plan” for my kids’ school, a document that spells out what the school’s goals are regarding education and the means by which they put those goals into effect. After deciphering the usual cant and education babble, I learned that our school wants to teach our kids to read, write, do math, learn about their country and save the environment — laudable goals all. The one thing that stood out for me, though, was the little paragraph I quote below. I’ve edited it somewhat to remove specific identifiers so that the text doesn’t lead right back to our school, but I’ve kept unchanged the money language, which I’ve highlighted:
In keeping with directives from State headquarters, our school’s P.E. program strives to help students to develop a greater appreciation for themselves and for each other. The state’s policy recommends moving away from an emphasis on teaching students to compete, which includes the concept of winner/loser, and moving towards teaching the concept of “every student is a winner”. Students will come to understand that “winning” is dependent upon more than a score in a game.
In other words, our children are not to be taught that, whether you win or lose, it’s how you play the game. They are not to be taught how to be a good (as opposed to a sore) loser. They are not to be taught how to be a gracious (as opposed to an arrogant) winner. They are not to be taught to strive for success. All those useful life skills have been removed from the physical ed curriculum. Instead, “everyone is a winner.” Well, I’ve got a quote for them:
Helen: Everyone’s special, Dash.
Dash: [muttering] Which is another way of saying no one is.
(Incidentally, I happen to know that the minds that came up with that last quote, good liberals all, have their children in private schools.)
Also, in the context of the school’s language, what in the heck does it mean that “students will come to understand that ‘winning’ is dependent upon more than a score in a game?” Sure, we all talk about personal bests, and trying hard, and stuff, but winning still means someone is losing — and kids have to learn how to lose. (And, as I noted above, they also have to learn how to win.)
Fortunately, the kids understand certain things better than the teachers and the administrators. When you take them out of the anesthetizing blanket that the public schools seek to wrap around them, and put them on after-school soccer fields, basketball courts, or baseball diamonds, they play with ferocity, and a do-or-die need to win.