"Look Mum, I got a certificate!" cried my son in his first week of school. I, the proud, first-time school Mum, did what every first-time school Mum does these days and photographed it and posted it on Facebook.
So too with the certificate earned the next week, then the award in Assembly, then the pendant which now hangs proudly in my kitchen.
Thoughts of IQ testing and selective schools started running through my mind. Until the week after when he brought home yet another certificate. The photographing started to drop off, the Facebook pics went ‘unliked’.
Then I started to notice the scene at school pickup… the little children all waving their copious amounts of certificates at their parents as they ran from their classrooms. My pride took a hit as I registered yet another example of what is termed the ‘everyone gets a ribbon culture’.
A recent report showed that Australian children’s academic achievements are going backwards. This is despite concerted government effort.
Child and adolescent psychologist Michael Carr-Gregg agrees that this culture is harming our kids. He says that the lack of competition means children don’t learn to deal with disappointment or associate effort with outcome.
"Where is the incentive to achieve and get better? When you take away the ability to win and lose, you are taking away the capacity to develop resilience and the ability to overcome, face and be strengthened by adversity."
Michael Carr-Gregg says that we are “raising a ‘marshmallow generation," but we are doing them no favours because life does not work like that."
Father of three, David, admits that his five-year-old Northbridge soccer player son isn’t headed toward Old Trafford anytime soon.