Image courtesy of Ray Larabie
I don’t want to kick a hornet’s nest, but I am having a tough time lately with people’s obsession with the word ‘best’. It appears to me that social media, especially blogging combined with Twitter or Facebook, has fuelled this fire of lists, awards, and badges. I have to admit that I have blogged the occasional list of educational tools around a topic, but I think I have been fairly careful to stay clear of the use of superlatives to drive traffic to my site. After all, who’s to say that I would be correct in saying that these things are the ultimate end-all / be-all on these topics?
There are award shows, blog badges, and lists galore, so why are we so focussed on ranking things? I’m a teacher and I have difficulty with marks and grades, why would I then be so focussed on putting others on a pedestal while leaving others out? Despite what others vehemently state, those people who are most widely known are those who get the most accolades. People might argue that these people have achieved this level of status based on the quality of their work or their character, but I would contend that there are probably an equal number of those who have ‘worked the system’ to get where they are. I believe that there are a whole host of people who don’t get the recognition they deserve simply because they don’t feel comfortable with the spotlight and so their work goes largely unnoticed. Once in a while, someone is exposed as a ‘hidden gem’, a hero who shies away from the accolades and simply gets on with their work. Those people are like the tip of the huge iceberg of other great workers who are moving along silently under the surface.
But why? What great purpose does it serve to elevate so few people to artificial heights while leaving others behind? I completely understand the need to be recognized for your work. Everyone deserves a pat on the back for the good work that they do. The problem is the competition. Pitting one person against another for the sake of an award seems so wrong. It makes me feel good when someone spontaneously encourages me with a simple “good job” or “I really thought that was a great ___”. What makes me not so happy is to be given that encouragement at the sake of another. It makes me feel like someone is saying, “You are so much better than them.” Really? I thought they were pretty awesome.
I also feel like it gives our students the wrong impression. I know, I know. Welcome to the real world. It’s dog eat dog out there so you need to fight for what’s yours. I don’t know. I’m of the mentality that we train our students to strive for something different, something better. Don’t buy into the idea that we need to learn how to survive in the world as it is, fight for something better. Where would be without those who have fought for change in a world where change is often frowned upon? Just because the world has lost it’s focus on what is right and good doesn’t mean we have to encourage our students to embrace that ideology. I feel awful that teachers are not being properly recognized for all of the hard work and passion they put into their craft. That is simply wrong. Teachers are asked to do everything, but given so little in return. After saying that, can’t we do more than single out a few for recognition?
I don’t have the best blog. I am not the best writer. I am certainly not the best teacher, but I really love what I do. What I really love is when someone I know shares with me how much they appreciate what I do. That’s it. No award / badge / best ‘something’ list needed. A smile. An encouraging word. A pat on the back. Okay, maybe the occasional pumpkin spiced latte would be nice.