Dealing With Disappointment

This week’s column is about the importance of helping kids learn to deal with the fact that things won’t always work out the way they hope.

The topic struck me as timely after reading about this junior high school in Calgary that decided to eliminate its honour roll in order to protect the self-esteem of kids who don’t make the list.

The school has taken quite a beating online for the decision, and I’m among those who think it’s the wrong move. I think it will ultimately hurt those kids more than it will help them.

The reality is there will likely always be someone who is better, stronger, faster or smarter. That doesn’t mean we stop trying; it’s a good reminder to keep working when we feel lazy and to stay humble when we feel our egos growing.

Telling kids that we’ll rewrite the rules just to make them feel good takes away both of those lessons. It tells them protecting their ego is more important than challenging themselves. It might make them feel good in the moment, but it’s not going to do them any favours in life.



4 responses to “Dealing With Disappointment

  1. Having an honour roll motivated me to get better grades. How about we focus on bullying and extra curricular activities for kids. An honour roll provides kids something to work towards that they can feel proud of. What a life lesson.

  2. Great article Chad. While I agree that disappointment is an essential part of growth, I feel that the shift away from the honour role may be an attempt, albeit a misguided attempt, to address a much more complex issue than hurt feelings or egos. Our public education system is struggling to figure out how to accommodate a growing number of children with learning disabilities/differences. Understandably the system wasn’t built to serve the individual, as institutions rarely are, but there is a growing recognition that its methods are no longer relevant for a growing population. As a parent of a child with multiple learning disabilities I understand the sentiment behind abolishing the honour role – after all high grades are awarded for diligence, but also for having been born with a certain set of cognitive skills required to acquire and express that knowledge in a particular format. Don’t worry, I’m not suggesting that we do away with grades and I don’t agree with getting rid of the honour role. A better way would be to actually support and equip all children to have the opportunity to shoot for the honour role -that is if the goal of the education system is educate all students and not just the neurotypical, but scrapping the honour role is easier!

    • Those are good points, Naomi, and the school’s response hints at the fact that they’re trying to think about accommodating kids with learning disabilities and special needs. But as you say, they’d do better by actually investing time and resources in serving those kids rather than just wiping out the honour roll so nobody feels bad. In a way I think they’re unfortunately singling out the kids who might struggle all over again. In that Calgary Herald article, the first kid quoted complains that the school is catering to “the one per cent of students or so who have learning problems.” So instead of helping those kids, the school is just encouraging resentment. Going the easy route ends up doing more harm than good.

  3. Yes. I agree. Taking the honour role away from the children who are functioning well in the system is a terribly shallow, shortsighted and socially harmful way to ‘accommodate’ the children who aren’t.

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