Wednesday, September 26, 2007

American Schools: No Winners or Losers--Except in Life

Selwyn Duke wonders what is happening to childhood--we have so anesthetized it that when kids get to be adults, they don't understand winning and losing:
Huck Finn must be spinning in his literary grave. Just recently a Colorado Springs, Co., elementary school banned tag during recess, joining other schools that have prohibited this childhood pastime. Upon hearing this, I thought about the movement to ban cops and robbers, musical chairs, steal the bacon, and the kill-joys' most frequent target and this writer's favorite childhood school game, dodge ball. Then there's the more inane still, such as the decision by the Massachusetts Youth Soccer Association to prohibit keeping score in kids' tournament play.

There are many ways to describe this trend. One might say it's a result of the left's antipathy toward competition, the increasing litigiousness of the day, or the inordinate concern with self-esteem and hurt feelings. Then, if I am to speak only of my feelings, the word stupid comes to mind. Really, though, regardless of whether the motivations are good or ill or the reasoning sound or not, at the end of the day I find a conclusion inescapable. Slowly, incrementally, perversely, boyhood is being banned.
It certainly seems that way.

Life has winners and losers and kids need to learn that. When my children are learning to play games, I usually let them win, but as they get better at the game, I increase my competitiveness. Sometimes they win and sometimes they lose. But we never, ever make them feel bad for losing.

When my father taught me how to play chess, I didn't beat him until I was 13 and then only sporadically. It does nothing for a child to let them win all the time.

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