Entitlement through Education? Is it to help or to hurt?

 Ask yourself one question. Was it to help or to hurt? 
-   A wise teacher
This response to conflict or upset is not necessarily one that should be reserved for students in trouble or on the verge of receiving a warning for hurting another students feelings or pride, but it can also be posed to educators.  During the last few weeks of school, small class room celebrations and larger moving on ceremonies occur.  These celebrations are important rites of passage for both the teachers and the students.  For the teachers, they are necessary because they represent a sense of closure for the group of students that will be moving on to the next grade.  Likewise, for the students the ceremonies are important because they represent the culmination of hard work or lack thereof during the year.  It is also during these times that teachers begin to question how awards are given and who should receive what certificates or accolades. 
These certificates range from best all around to most improved student and anything that fits within.  However, there are some students that dont fit in the prescribed categories designated for awards.  What do teachers do with these students?  Many feel that all students should receive an award and there are others that subscribe to the belief that you work for what you get”.  I am a member of the latter in terms of what should be expected during these celebrations. 
Students work hard during the year and once the year ends, the expectation is that the rewards they are given for their work encompass their effort and grit. As educators do we help or hurt our students by giving them certificates for showing up or showing out?  Awards ceremonies are not designed to punish students who do not show improvement or struggled in particular areas.  These programs are exactly the opposite!  They exist to highlight the students that have excelled or improved.  What do we, as educators, teach our students if we give certificates of attendance or participation?  Are we suggesting that little or no effort is worth an award or accolade?  This seems to be a topic of discord among teachers; however, I am always left wondering the same thing during this time.  Are we building a strong sense of entitlement and setting our students up for failure if we teach them that a lack of effort should be celebrated as much as consistent effort? Is this mindset one that helps or hurts our students?    

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