When I was a kid I wasn't good at sports. I wasn't popular. I didn't sing, dance or act (which in a predominately Mormon town is quite a handicap).
But there was ONE THING that I was good at. I was smart. I read before I started school. By the middle of grade 6 I had charged through and completed all the pre-packaged curriculum units in English that were favoured in the mid-seventies to allow kids to 'work at their own pace'. The program still exists and, yes, I remembered correctly. I finished the 'Year 9' programming when I was 11. Our grade of about 120 students was divided for 'core' classes by the level at which students were learning. Those of us who were quick studies were grouped with like students. Those students who needed more help and different learning strategies were kept together.
Somewhere in the 1980s or 1990s (not having a school-aged child until the 2000s I didn't really pay that much attention to educational philosophy changes) the grouping of classes based on learning level and style fell from grace. Students of all abilities were grouped together in classes, often large classes. For the most part, the quick learners whose learning style lined up with the way things were taught generally still excelled. Kids who learned differently, who needed extra help, well they often had trouble. This was the era of 'social passes', when some children were moved from grade to grade without having learned even the basic skills.
By the time my girl-child started school, most elementary schools were hesitant to give children actual 'grades', instead opting to use measures of progress that simply said "meets expectations" or "participates in class". When she started junior high actual percentage and letter grade marks were finally part of the report card experience. Now that she is in high school and getting prepared to apply for University, grades are somewhat more important.
One of the "perks" of getting higher than average marks has always been a place on the school's "Honour Role". Most schools have some type of assembly and/or certificate to recognize those students who have put time and effort into their studies and excelled as a result. The Pumpkin has been on the Honour Role pretty much every year and she is proud of her work and so are her parents.
Well, it now seems that some educational gurus are challenging the use of singling out those students with high marks for special recognition. Recently I saw that a Calgary School was talking about getting rid of the honour role system "so as not to hurt the feelings of those who don’t make the cut". What the Heck? Seriously. What about the self-esteem of those students for whom academic excellence is their only claim to fame? The recognition I got for high marks was the only thing that got me through much of my adolescence. It told me I had something special about me. The way that shooting baskets and acting in the community theatre told other of my classmates that they had a special talent. Unless schools are also going to get rid of all sports' teams, so as not to hurt the feelings of the kid who doesn't make the cut. AND get rid of any type of drama or musical programs, so as not to hurt the feelings of the kid who doesn't make the cut. AND get rid of student council, so as not to hurt the feelings of the kid who doesn't make the cut. Why don't we accept that everyone has different gifts and talents. Celebrate the diversity and find the 'thing' that each child does best. This would lead to success for that child in other areas.