Awards vs Sharing


Trophies and ribbons,

medals and certificates,

are reminders.

They remind us of the great things we’ve done.

They are nice but I’m not convinced they are terribly

meaningful. We can share these things but their

value is limited.


Showing someone your trophy

isn’t the same as sharing the event

or all the work leading up to that event.


I’m not trying to say awards are bad

or don’t have a place.

But I believe that most, who earn or win awards,

are rewarded mostly by their work,

and through opportunities to share it.


Getting a medal for say, writing a book, or painting a painting 

or helping people in need, isn’t the goal. I believe authors or painters or people who help people in need would rather

have people read their books, or view their paintings, or support them so they can help more people in need instead

of hold a medal.


It’s unlikely that showing off any medals we have is going to truly move people

or inspire them.  I think people are moved and inspired by people’s work. By reading their books, or viewing their paintings, or seeing someone help someone else.


When we think about celebrating our students’ (or staffs’) great work, we should ask ourselves, “Are we merely offering that person a reminder or are we providing an opportunity for them to inspire?”


If our goal is to see more great work by more people, then we can’t just have everyone watch someone get an award. For no matter how long they look at an award, or how many times they see someone get an award,

they’ll never learn how to do great work.


The next time we are tempted to offer a medal or certificate or ribbon to honor someone’s great work, perhaps what we should be doing instead is allow the

awardee to share their great work and tell their story.


My students learn best when my expectations and thinking are carefully modeled.

They learn best when a technique or concept are explicitly shown.


Giving a kid an award might be a nice reminder for that kid and their family,

but I’m not sure it’s going to help other kids get trophies, certificates, medals or ribbons in their hands.


They need to see the great work, they need to see the journey of great work,

so they can learn how to do great work themselves.


Great work needs to be shared not just rewarded.



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