Recently, a friend of mine who is a teacher put up a “Certificate of Recognition” passed out to the hundreds of teachers. She was laughing at the whole “everyone gets a trophy” aspect of such “recognition” for the efforts of these teachers. I guess “Everyone Is Special!” isn’t just for kids anymore!
I bring this up because even though the NFL season is still a few months away, an NFL player had a strong response to this whole, “everyone’s special, here’s a trophy” mentality. In fact, his reaction was to immediately take away the “participation trophy” from his first grade daughter. Townhall has the story:
Pittsburgh Steelers running back DeAngelo Williams is waging a one-man battle against the “everyone gets a trophy” mentality. Williams decided to teach his kindergarten-aged daughter a lesson about winning and losing: he gave her teacher back her field day participation ribbon to encourage her earn a ribbon by placing in an event.
According to Williams, she then placed first in the next event.
Williams tweeted a picture of his daughter wearing the ribbons she won throughout the day.
The post noted that overall, Williams received favorable comments for his actions. I, for one, am delighted that people are standing up to this mamby pamby mindset that eliminates competition and promotes the idea that all children are EXACTLY the same and can achieve EXACTLY the same goals. That is just not accurate. Everyone is equal in a big picture sense, sure. And everyone has their gift, sure, but not everyone is smart enough to be a medical doctor, or able to be an artist, or a musician, or any host of other vocations or occupations. It is doing NO ONE any favors to set kids up for certain failure when they realize they have been lied to all of their lives about how the world works.
The bottom line is this: when everyone gets the same award for being “special,” no one is…
And speaking of education, this next story is both an indictment of our educational system, and a celebration of learning to read. This is also a gridiron story about former University of Georgia football player, now an NFL rookie, Malcolm Mitchell. From The Federalist:
Malcolm Mitchell was drafted by the New England Patriots in the fourth round of the NFL draft last week. But the wide receiver out of Georgia is living another unlikely dream, too, fielding a public invitation to Reese Witherspoon’s book club on Twitter. It wouldn’t be the first ladies’ book club he’s joined.
The path that brought the Valdosta native to the actress’s attention has been marked by chance encounters and second chances. When Mitchell arrived at the University of Georgia his freshman year, he wasn’t reading at a college level. He hadn’t been read to as a child, and never took interest in high school. Frustrated, he set out to improve his skills.
Wandering through an Athens, Georgia, Barnes & Noble, he ran into Kathy Rackley, who was carrying a pile of books under her arm.
Mitchell asked her for help finding books that might work for him, and she mentioned her book club.
“He said, ‘Can I join your book club?’” Rackley recalled. “And I said, ‘I don’t know if you want to join mine. We’re all 40-, 50-, and 60-year-old women.’”
Rackley didn’t know anything of Mitchell’s gridiron exploits, and he didn’t tell her. The young football star showed up for a ladies’ book club, and kept going once a month throughout his college career. When a knee injury kept him off the field for most of his 2013 season, he became a voracious reader while he rehabbed.
“Somebody called me a nerd. That’s not a word that I’m used to hearing,” he told CBS in 2014. “I was proud of it… It’s like a badge of honor to me, knowing where I came from.”
This is a great story in so many ways, especially because Mitchell has given back to young people, reading tot hem, and even writing a book, according to The Federalist. That is no small thing, especially if it helps these young children to develop a love for reading, something many of us here share.
But it also begs the question, how did a young man who was only reading at a junior high school level not just graduated from high school, but accepted into a prestigious university?? That I find to be incredibly disconcerting. How about we actually make sure kids can perform at the grade level they are in, and that they are competent enough to actually GRADUATE? If not, hold them back. That used to be a fairly common occurrence. Not so sure in this “Everybody’s a winner” pedagogy if that still happens.
That said, though, it is impressive that this young man took it upon himself to better himself, and now has accomplished a lot more than getting into the pros:
[…] He started visiting local schools and reading to kids, trying to instill in them what he’d missed as a child. His “Read With Malcolm” efforts eventually spawned a self-published children’s book in 2015 called “The Magician’s Hat.” Mitchell spent $500-1000 of his own money on it, and the NCAA ruled he could sell the book long as the football program wasn’t promoting the sales. Former Georgia coach Mark Richt supported Mitchell’s efforts, writing the foreword to the book, which is the semi-autobiographical tale of a young man whose magic trick is to reveal the power of books to change lives. […] (Click here to read the rest.)
And now Reese Witherspoon has invited him to join HER book club, as the article points out. Not too shabby, especially if it encourages more young kids to read.
As they say, “reading is fun-damental,” as this cute video highlights:
Isn’t that cute? I love seeing all those happy kids with their books.
Indeed, as this crazy campaign season continues, getting lost in a good book may be just what the doctor ordered. Nothing like being transported by a great story, is there?
And so, for this Weekend Open Thread, feel free to share what book you are reading, or your favorite book (s), or anything else that’s on your minds. Have at it!