Thursday, September 30, 2010

Sports day at Canossian convent

This morning, husband, Sophia and I went to Canossian convent for Anjali's sports day. Anjali's class did something called mighty mini crawler. They were required to crawl through a series of obstacles and tunnels. Sophia stayed put till Anjali came to do the course. Then she began to run towards the contraption. When i carried her away she began to cry.

"Shapia aant to go there!!!" she cried, indicating that she too wanted to tunnel. We couldnt console her, and husband took her to the playground at the back of the school.

She wanted to sit with her sister's class throughout the rest off the event, refused my bread in favor of the bun that they gave Anjali in school, and when it was time for the kids to receive trophies made a show.

"Shapia want it cuppie!! Want it Anchaali cuppie now!"


The school gave trophies to all the children. Husband and I were talking about it on our way back.

What is the value of a prize - we asked ourselves. Singapore schools tend to give trophies to children all the time, so that by the time a kid is in primary six, they have a nice collection of different sized trophies on the mantelpiece. 

Is it a good thing, we ask, to give so many prizes? I got my first trophy at ninth grade - for winning a scholarship. Husband, through all the competitions he went through in school, got only one trophy. But Anjali has gotten a trophy today for participating in a sports event. She and Sophia will get another medal in december, for participating in a kids dash at the marathon.

While we appreciate that prizes are given to all the children so that the event is non competitive, does giving a prize result in what Hrish Pasek calls in her book over praising? We do want our children to run and play and take part in competitions, but not to do it for the prize of the trophy that they get at the end of it. We want them to do it for the sheer joy of taking part, for the joy of sweating it out.

Children are capable of feeling this joy. They will have fun in the sports event, regardless of whether a cup is there at the end of it or not. Anjali, I knew, enjoyed saying "jiayo! jiayo!" with her friends and pointing her friends out to me "Mummy, this is Mikaela, this is Tricia, this is Nathan, this is Sara" - more than she enjoyed the cup. Infact, she didnt even give it a second look after she got home.   

Sophia too, after the initial bout of envy that she wanst getting the bright golden cup, remembered the event more. Her version of the morning

"Sit with Anchaali, say jiayo, jiayo"

Will this feeling of joy transform at some stage into an expectation? I dont want to take part in an event if I dont get a trophy at the end of it? Does this overpraising symptom (Which is totally discouraged in Hrish Pasek's book, and which husband especially refers to a lot when Anjali throws a tantrum) lead to children who expect many rewards for little work? What implication does this have for youth?

In my work, I come across students (Singaporeans mostly) who want to make money, and who want to come with a bright idea that gives them a million dollars. A facebook or a twitten app that has millions of users and makes tons and tons of money, but takes less than a couple of days to code.

And it makes me wonder, did these children get trophies for doing little when they were kids?


1 comment:

  1. Hi,

    Your blog looks intresting. When I wass googling for Cannossian, it came up.

    I'm enrolling my daughter at Canossian convent, Jurong Kechill for the year 2012.

    Pls let me know how did you find the school in terms of tesching and character building etc..

    You can reach me at


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