Life Is Fair -- Until It Isn't
I wrote about this sort of ridiculousness in I See Rude People -- kids being taught that everybody wins instead of being taught the truth: there are real rewards for achievement.
Our contemporary hunger for equality can border on the comical. When my six-year-old son came home from first grade with a fancy winner's ribbon, I was filled with pride to discover that he had won a footrace. While I was heaping praise on him, he interrupted to correct me. "No, it wasn't just me," he explained. "We all won the race!" He impatiently educated me. He wasn't first or second or third--he couldn't even remember what place he took. Everyone who ran the race was told that they had won, and they were all given the same ribbon. "Well, you can't all win a race," I explained to him, ever-supportive father that I am. That doesn't even make sense. He simply held up his purple ribbon and raised his eyebrows at me, as if to say, "You are thus refuted." . . .
More troubling than the institutional enforcement of this strange fairness is the fact that such protective "lessons" ill-equip kids for the realities of later life. As our children grow up, they will have to negotiate a world of partiality. Does it really help children when our schools legislate reality into a "fairer" but utterly fictional form? The focus on equality of outcome may produce a generation that is burdened with an indignant sense of entitlement.