08 July 2012
social commentary Sunday . . . 'the primary school merit award system'
Ah yes, that old chestnut, merit awards in primary school. I started school in 1980 & as a smart, sporty, social student, i brought home my fair share of merit cards (we just found dozens of them in the garage tidy up!!) For senior primary, i headed to private school & frivilous awards dried up.
Many a parent has sat at assembly, anxiously waiting for their child to be called up to receive a well earned merit certificate/ class award/ citizen prize . . . & nothing. Worse, the naughty child who teases others - had one good day of behaviour or finally studied for a test - their name is called. I have smart, sporty & social children, so i kind of expect the odd award to come home with them. Alas . . .
Criss crossing Australia with 4 children, we have used 9 different pre/ primary/ high schools - Montessori, public, indigenous, private - they are all inconsistent with their merit awards system. Bringing an apple for the teacher is not going to result in any extra credit, most are terrified of being accused of bias!!
When our eldest started primary school in NSW, assemblies went for ages as an abundance of merit certificates were handed out (for fair reasons) - when you got 10, you received a Blue Honour Award & your family was invited to morning tea with the Principal. We were only there for one year, by golly she got her Blue Honour & it was as important as the Order of Australia & high tea with the Queen, to all of us.
My children attended a small NT indigenous primary school where merit awards were given as incentives with lots of encouragement certificates & i'm sure they went through the roll so everyone had a turn.
Welcome to primary school in the ACT, smothered in public service & 'you're all winners' mentality. Now i love our school (we drive a long way to get there) & this of course, is my opinion & a generalisation but GOOD LORD what do you have to do to get a merit certificate?? They give 2 per class, per assembly (4 assemblies per term!!) Is it such agony for them to pick recipients?? Heaven forbid, recognising one child is better at something, than another?? I joke that it's a miracle they hand out sports ribbons for fear of identifying success.
We're in our 5th year at this primary school (remember my husband posted to Brisbane on his own) so this is rare for a military family. Our 4 children move seamlessly from school to school, from state to territory, yet the merit system is so out of whack, it's difficult to explain. Our best academic performer is our middle daughter, she also happens to be polite, perfect posture & immaculate hair, uniform, homework . . . how many merit awards has she received?? One. Well one at the time, i was asking another mother with bright nice children at assembly a fortnight ago, if her boys ever received awards . . . she rolled her eyes & said "oh don't you get it, if your child gets an award at this school, it basically means they are struggling!!" That assembly, our middle girl received her 2nd award, from her teacher (new to the school) & shock it was for academic achievement!!
I love high school, their academic assemblies are once per semester & each class is given an award for best effort & best achievement. Simple. Worthy. I'm extremely proud that our eldest daughter has received an award(s) at every assembly so far (this semester she's a possible Religious Education winner, hilarious for her atheist mother.)
I can never guess who, what, why or when a primary school award is coming our way, can you?? Love Posie
PS with reference to my last post, i asked handsome soldier if i could proof read this post out loud to him & he responded "do i have a choice??" Tee hee.
PPS the silver apple in the image was a gift for our beautiful & beloved out going primary school principal who appreciated my honest opinions (really.)