I went to my son's school's monthly award ceremony yesterday - or what my husband likes to refer to as the "Celebration of Mediocrity."
Basically one morning each month all the primary grades file into the gym and a handful of kids are given awards for no apparent reason other than the fact that they're enrolled in the school. They spread it out so that every kid gets a chance to get an award. They don't do it alphabetically - that would be too obvious - but I wouldn't be surprised if there was some eeny-meeny-miney-moe going on.
Their names are called out and the Principal gives them a certificate and their parents all elbow each other out of the way to capture the moment on film. My son is four and a half and when he got his certificate he called out to me in the audience, "Mommy, what's this for?"
A very good question. The school is clearly going through this exercise as a way of building self esteem and making all the kids feel good as award winners. But what's the point if you don't even know what you won the award for? Can the effect be faked? Can you make someone feel good about doing something they never did? I don't think so.
You can't get past the fact that, no matter how hard the school system or management in the workplace might try, people need to do the hard work in order to really feel proud at the end. You have to do the middle bit.
It's like writing my novel. I want to get "the call" from an agent who wants to represent me. I want to sell my book to an editor. I want to see it on the shelf in the bookstore. But I can't get there without doing all the hard work in between wanting it and getting it. I could stop editing now and just self-publish it and throw myself a little book launch party here at the house but that wouldn't work. It wouldn't scratch the itch that I have to succeed in this business because I would know it was fake.
There's just no getting around it - you have to do the middle bit.