Yesterday my little karate Koopa earned his green belt. I am so proud of the effort that he has put towards this accomplishment. Physical feats do not come easy for him, mainly because of some equilibrium issues from his hearing problems, but what he lacks in natural skill he makes up for with grit and determination. He isn't the most graceful, but he never gives up!
What should have been a proud moment was marred
at the end of last night's belt ceremony. I knew as soon as the
instructors started bestowing special patches on select students that my
kiddo was going to leave the mat with hurt feelings. The pride that he
felt when his belt was tied around his waist evaporated when his name
was not called to receive a patch. Instead of celebrating his
accomplishment, he quietly asked me why his instructors don't like him.
the patches are necessary, I suggest that the instructors consider
doing it privately. Holding up select students on a higher pedestal
during a ceremony meant to honor all who have earned their belts only
serves to deflate those not chosen for special recognition. Perhaps
privately handing a student a patch after a particularly good skill
session would be more appropriate. I need to be clear on this point: I would feel the exact same way had Robby been selected to receive a patch.
I don't believe that his not
receiving a patch was a purposeful slight. In fact, I think that the
feelings of all of the students was not on the radar of the instructors.
We live in a prize driven society, and the patches are simply an
extension of that mentality. Instead of allowing kids to feel the pride
from working hard to earn something, we now try to pad the experience by
creating extra awards and recognition. Unfortunately, creating awards
has the opposite effect by devaluing the accomplishment for each student
who worked hard and earned the belt.