Ethnocentrism: Potato, potato? Tomato, tomato?

Potato, potato.. tomato, tomato. Who said driving on the left side of the road is the ‘wrong side’? It happens every day, all around the world. We find ourselves having conversations where one person believes their way of doing things is right or better than the other’s. A rude comment is thrown here, and that marks the spark of an exchange of fiery comments. This is the problem of ethnocentrism.

Ethnocentrism is the belief that one’s own culture is superior to another. For example, believing bathing once a day is the only right and best way to live. Body adornment is enacted in most cultures by the wearing of jewelry, several piercings like the eyelids, or belly button, tattoos, and the application of makeup; just to name a few. Most cultures tend to focus on beauty and body adornment as a way to heighten or accent beauty in both males and females. For some, body adornment can also be a social or political statement. Multiple ear piercings could be a way for a teenager to express his/her freedom or individuality or a way to express conformity within one’s peer group.

On the other hand, in another culture, say Tanzania or Zambia, body adornment may take on a more religious connotation. Traditionally, Orthodox Jews cannot be buried in a Hebrew cemetery if they have a tattoo, for instance. Gift giving traditionally in American and most cultures involves the giving of a gift and a written or verbal “thank you” from the receiver. In Turkey, however, when receiving a gift the receiver must deny the gift twice before accepting it and then a re-gifting is also necessary

As one source put it, “Society is a weaving together of individuals that share a common culture or sub-culture while culture is a set of values and beliefs.” What may be taught in one’s own culture as right and wrong, acceptable or unacceptable may not be the same in another culture. It is important to be careful judging across cultures because you are judging other people according to your standards. If those people don’t happen to have your standards, you might judge them incorrectly.

How many times have you been in a group of people where someone makes a remark pertaining to a certain group of people, or culture that catches your attention? Remarks like those often go unnoticed, but they linger on your mind for a while after. We often won’t point them out in a group setting, but they may be hurtful comments if addressing one’s own culture.

It’s everywhere, including politics. The French for example have banned Islam women from wearing scarfs on their heads, yet that is an expression of their culture and their faith. People from our own culture can also annoy and offend us. While we do not feel bad if we are upset when someone from our own culture irks us, when the perpetrator is from another culture, we wonder if we have the right to be upset. Is it really fair to be angry with that person?

The truth is that that is the wrong question. Fair or not, it is human nature to react to other people’s behavior, responding positively or negatively. We all have certain opinions about people’s way of doing things, most of the time, not necessarily positive. The question lies in whether it is necessary to voice those opinions. It’s in the voicing of one’s opinion that the conflict and the fiery comments arise… which is quite unnecessary if you ask me. It’s okay to think a certain way about something, but when it comes to the more sensitive issues especially, be mindful of what you say and how you say it.

-Stephanie Mithika (2014)

The Thoughts Room

Life is sometimes so overwhelming; there are all these directions and decisions to choose. Teachers are silent killers of brain activity, shutting down our brains but still making us work. We are all like zombies; we are all hungering for brain, hungering for some extra life. Internet has become a ninja, sneaking through our brains and shutting us down. No one seems to get it, this overloading sense of death.

No one understands, you try to talk to your best friend but it seems to fly through her head. You watch as the empty expanse seems to evaporate and traps you into your gilded cage. It’s like sensory overload; your head explodes. You sit there, for hours maybe, watching that rectangular piece of metal, hoping it will illicit some sort of reaction out of you.

You need to feel alive. Sometimes the best company is yourself, you just need to open that Pandora’s Box and let the chaos ensue. You need to learn to open up your mind in times like this.

Luckily, there’s something called the thoughts room on the internet, something we all have a love-hate relationship with. Sometimes what’s needed is space from the world and time to contemplate and regret idiotic decisions; what’s life without regrets, public mortification, and trouble.

The thoughts room starts out with a language option, English is awesome but German will become fun later on. It takes you through the galaxy and tells you to be free. After options come up, the screen disappears into stars; these stars are here for your benefit, there is nothing better than watching exploding stars. There is a small, white box that tells you to type. It’s a place where your innermost secrets, ideas, and thoughts can be expressed without anybody EVER finding out. The words falls down as you type them, they explode into a multitude of stars all over. The sound effects scare you while sending you into a state of exhilaration.

It’s exhilarating being able to say anything, no censorship. The line between intelligence and imagination are totally blurred, and that’s the best part. Type in the daily struggles you have to go through, the things that nobody else understands but troubles you on a daily basis. There is this pressure that requires you to be good, to be smart. You don’t have to be any of those things for anyone for a total of how many minutes of internet you have.

The most important lesson to be learned in life is that everyone dies alone, so why fear it. Learn to accept yourself and learn to let things out. Take the stress and make it explode, obliterate it.

Whenever you need just space to breathe, just to calm yourself down, this is the best and most perfect website. Nobody else needs to get you but yourself, so just relax and sit down. Crank up your speakers, close the door and just breathe. Stretch out your fingers, you can stare at the screen if you want. Type.

http://thequietplaceproject.com/thethoughtsroom/?page=thethoughtsroom&lang=

–          Divita Raithatha (2014)

Golden State: A New Beginning

Golden State Warriors- a team that is known for its talent, skill and an outstanding point guard, made it to the western conference first round playoffs. The team had a .622 (W51 – L31) record, which is the best record the team has had in 22 years. Most people would say that it was Stephen Curry who led the warriors through one of their best seasons in history, but I don’t completely agree. Mark Jackson became head coach of the warriors in 2011, by then Stephen Curry had already played for a season, and Coach Jackson was able to work well with the team and direct them to the last two playoffs.

This season however, after the end of the Warriors season – eliminated after the first round of the playoffs by the Los Angeles Clippers, Coach Jackson was fired after allegedly having disagreements with the team’s management. Was that the only reason why Coach Jackson was fired? If it is, was it really bad? Is it a good enough reason? If some disagreement is the reason coach, or rather ex-coach Jackson was fired, then it must have been a really bad one. Jackson was taken straight from the broadcast booth without any previous coaching experience, and was able to accomplish quite much, especially considering that fact that he led his team to two playoff seasons out of his three coaching years.

Mark Jackson was able to accomplish that much so early, why fire him over a disagreement? Maybe there is more. According to Sports News, he has a way of talking right past people. One can talk to him for 100 days in a row, and on the 101st day, he still won’t know your name. That’s something that everyone picks up on. He didn’t have many friends on the coaching staff or in the administration. Maybe his demeanor combined with his inexperience and with the option of another coach on the table, management decided to fire Jackson.

Golden State Warriors then decided to acquire Steve Kerr, a retired American professional basketball player.  Kerr is a five time NBA champion, winning three championships with the Chicago Bulls and two with the San Antonio Spurs. Steve is also one of two players in NBA history to have won two championships with two different teams in consecutive seasons. Steve has had a good NBA career and accomplished much, but he also has not had any experience. He was offered a job by Phil Jackson, the president of New York Knicks, which he turned down to join the Golden State Warriors.

Steve seems to have chosen #DubNation not because of the fans or hype, but because it seems like he truly has a vision for the team. He wrote a 16 page paper of the vision he has for the Golden State Warriors. He says he has a philosophy and plan that will help him and the team propel forward. Stephen, their star player and point guard, said that he is excited about the new Warriors coach, but he is also still frustrated by the firing of Mark Jackson. He’s encouraged by the prospects of a fresh start under a new regime but still bummed out by the manner the last one just ended.

As a fan of Golden State and their play, hopefully they will be able to all fit together and work well. Steve Kerr seems to be a coach that will inspire the team and help them achieve what they want.

– Michael Sossy

African Vegetarianism

“Is there a difference between white vegetarians and black vegetarians?” One Rosslyn student answered after being asked what she thought of black vegetarians. Funny enough, this is not usually the response given. I was once vegetarian and most comments made it seem that being vegetarian was a strictly white thing. Sure, being vegetarian is hard, it not for everyone and requires a great deal of motivation.

Temptations might be the number one reason that most vegetarians become ex-vegetarians. It is probably best to avoid temptation as much as possible, but proves rather difficult when meat is EVERYWHERE.  Especially in Kenya, there are nearly no options of vegetarian substitution-foods at all. Other reasons may include not having time to make vegetarian meals and not having support from peers or family.

Having said this, with temptations and time management aside, black vegetarians- no, African vegetarians- are just not normal. “Unless you have a health problem it is just unusual.” Vegetarianism is simply wasteful. The fact that you live in a continent whereby the usual stereotypes is everyone is starving  and you have the audacity to pass up beef stew, sausages, or even CHICKEN is simply absurd! “It is just frustrating and a joke.”

Outing for a meal outside usual fancy places, which cater to vegetarians, was simply frustrating. One of our Rosslyn peers, once a vegetarian, stated that “Ordering from local places was awkward. Especially since everything was meat, meat and meat. The only thing I could order was chips.” Others would ignore the fact that you don’t eat meat, pretending that you didn’t dare speak those words: A concept hard to wrap one’s mind around, proceeding to bring you rice with large pieces of beef mixed into it.

Friends tempt you into eating meat. Still forgetting, after telling them for the millionth time, and asking what about chicken! As if chicken is not meat. And a list hits your face asking if you eat any of their meat filled favorite foods in different ways, as if anything is going to change. After that the “what?”, “who?”, “when?” and “why?” especially “why?” you continue on to tell them and of course the “but God made animals for us to eat!?” At this point frustration lures its ugly head. This is just MY reality.

-Erykah Zimmer (2014)

Unauthorized Censorship

The end of the school year is upon us, and it is time for awards to be given to the extra talented or the outstanding performances of the intelligent and artistic. Art from Rosslyn’s top artists is displayed in the mosaic art gallery. Everything from 3D to drawing to charcoal pieces to photography is displayed on the walls for all to see.

Silmi, a 12th grader, and member of this very class, has displayed four distinct pieces of photography in the gallery.  They are entitled Censored, Skullivia, Tea with Myself, and The Time in between. They feature a woman with her lips sewn shut, a figure  wearing a black dress and a skull mask, one with a gorgeous girl having sitting on a chair having tea and another version of herself levitating horizontally, having tea as well, and the final piece is of one girl lying on the ground, and another girl levitating above her. These are the pictures Silmi submitted into the competition respectively.

Silmi is known as an amazing photography within the school, and as always, these pictures were spectacular. However, despite the amazingness of her art, some people did not like one of her pieces. When Mrs. Davis realized that the piece was missing, she contacted all the possible people she thought might have taken it down for censorship reasons, or something along those lines. None of those people had taken it down.

Over the weekend, Skullivia mysteriously and silently disappeared. On Monday morning, Mr. Dow discovered the crumpled up picture on his office floor. It had evidently been thrown through the window, by whoever disliked it. Written on the picture were the words, “Mr. Dow, is this what Rosslyn Academy stands for?”

It is believed that someone outside of Rosslyn is responsible for taking SIlmi’s picture down. In the space where the picture was is now a message from Art Department and Mr. Wolff. The note apologizes to Silmi for her picture being vandalized and states that it was indeed controversial. The note explains the background of the picture which was “The Day of the Dead.” They understand how the picture could be misinterpreted because there was no caption or explanation to go with it. I believe that the school managed the situation well, all things considered.

“I think it is what RA stands for, Art. The person should have complained politely to the administration about their concerns instead of vandalizing Silmi’s art. I feel like they should have reprinted it and put it up again, saying that it is art,” said Stanley, an 11th grader.

So, what exactly does this mean? Does it mean that students will have to censor or inhibit their creative leanings or conform to what the Rosslyn community thinks is acceptable in art? Individuals should be able to express themselves freely through their art without having to worry about it being vandalized or defaced.

Despite the fact that the school put up a note, does that make it better? Silmi is still hurt and may feel attacked. Unfortunately, she was unavailable for comment.

If people don’t like something, vandalism is not the way to go. As stated in the note put up by the Art department, if an individual has a problem with a piece of art, they should take it up with the art teacher or the administration. It is upsetting that the person who committed the act will not come to justice or experience the repercussions of their action at all. They remain anonymous as Silmi suffers.

The defacement of the picture was done in a very uncouth way and it may even be seen as aggressive, or threatening. Rosslyn has dealt with it well, however, as it does with most things.

–         Henrika Amoafo (2014)

The Living List

There are only so many “tomorrows” we can walk before we touch the edge of the horizon with the tips of our toes. As bitter as it may seem, life is limited-it has an end. This is a fact. Time, as we know it, helps define the beginning and ending of many aspects including existence, itself.

“The saddest summary of a life contains three descriptions: could have, might have, and should have.” – Louis E. Boone

“Make a Bucket List,” it occurred to me one day that my fear of an unmemorable life might just vanish if I took the time to list the goals I’d like to achieve and actually pursue them.  The problem with the list was that the elements were crammed sessions of what I desired to do before my inevitable death. The word “bucket” in the term changed the whole perspective on what I was writing. I was indeed writing a crammed list of long and short term goals I must do before I “kicked the bucket.” Its contents were impulsive, filled with adventures I had read about or seen but never truly cared to do, making my list a list of: Awesome Things to do for the Tremendously Adventurous International Backpacker. Instead, I toned the adrenaline down a few notches and made a Living List: a list of events, goals and wishes that I plan to accomplish as I move through time at the even pace that I am granted and comfortable with.

“A life without cause is a life without effect.” – Barbarella

The list went from daring events such as: dive in a shark cage, buy a motorcycle and become a professional, climb several HUGE mountains, buy a monkey, sleep in a rainforest for a week, walk a tightrope, waterfall kayak, jet pack, sky dive and the oh-so-common desire to yak ski; to ones more suitable for my lifestyle such as: master Spanish, learn to knit, knit a scarf, knit a sweater, go to Coachella, dance at a party (for once), spend at least two full days camping at the beach, meet my favorite bands, learn to surf and skateboard, meet Bryan Adams, conquer my fears and learn to back flip.

“There’ll be two dates on your tombstone and all your friends will read ‘em, but all that’s gonna matter is that little dash between ‘em.” -Kevin Welch

Though my current list may seem bland and reclusive and may hold no particular assistance to the direction I would like my life to go in, this list carries goals that I personally want to strive for at some point in my life.

-Adel Franklyn (2014)

The Suicide Diaries

“Hi, my name is X and I’m suicidal.”

“Hello, X,” Y and Z drone instinctively.

X shuffles his feet, his eyes shift like an Olympic ping pong game. Floor. Wall. Floor. Wall. He takes a deep breath.

“Start small. Tell me about an attempt,” I suggest.

X glances around, inspecting the area for stray teachers. The coast is clear.

“There were a couple of times; the first time I was in the bathtub and I was like ‘oh I could drown myself right now’ and like I just held my breath and went under the water and I closed my eyes and then I realized nah, I can’t actually hold my breath that long. And the pain, I’m not very good with pain. So I stopped. I felt really terrible that I couldn’t do it, I cried a bit.”

“I know that feeling,” Y chimes in, “my first time was pills, I literally just raided the medicine cabinet and I got about like 50 or so and then I just took them all. but it failed because nothing happened. I felt like a failure. I failed death.”

“Hmm…  my first attempt I think was in 5th or 6th grade, I tried to split through a vein and bleed out. I was about 70% gone when a friend found me passed out. She drove me to the hospital and had them stitch me up. My parents never found out.” Z adds, “I’m just counting the days till I die.”

“It’s like I didn’t choose to be born, I didn’t choose to have life happen to me. It’s just something that occurs really. What is it to you if I just don’t want to? If I’m in a train and I decide that I don’t want to be here now, would anyone care? I guess it’s kinda sad when somebody dies but what does that really mean? I think all life in any matter should be choice,” X says, his nerves dissipating with a gust of prickly confidence. Confidence that lay not in himself, but in his idea.

“I guess…at times, it just feels like I don’t have control over anything. It’s kinda like, it’s something that I can control. Like oh I could kill myself, right now. “ Y shares solemnly,  the weight of the idea begins to visibly settle on her shoulders. She sinks into her seat.

The weight is felt by the entire room, oppressing the imaginations of those who can’t imagine a way out. x takes a seat.

“The universe is a messed up place, there’s beauty in it somewhere, I just don’t think it’s the place for me,” z states, matter of factly. She pauses and looks out toward nothing, “Life is draining. Especially if you’re the type of person who doesn’t like showing emotion. It takes a ridiculous amount of physical energy to keep yourself animated and ‘normal’ in front of everyone else, so basically when you end up getting time alone, all the built up pain sort of comes pouring out and you just sit there cause everything hurts to a point where you can’t even feel anything. Does that makes sense?” Her mouth twists sharply, “Like there’s so much hurt that it gets to the point where you don’t even have the energy to cry, you just sit there staring at the ceiling trying to find a way to let everything out.”

“I’m not a good dealer with physical pain. But emotional pain? I have a self- loathing thing, I get into this zone where I just internalize and beat myself up kind of, it’s not  a conscious thing. It just happens when I think life sucks; it feels good to be honest.  People say it’s like ecstasy, but they are lying. It’s more like morphine, you feel numb but you feel something,” X comments, the confidence in his voice cracks, revealing overwhelming fear.

“You know what they say: ‘amare est delere et amari est deleri’ directly translated means ‘to love is to destroy, and that to be loved is to be destroyed’ roughly translated means emotions equal more pain,” Z responds. “Cause it’s harder to get hurt if you don’t let people in.”

Y smiles, the sort of smile that only the truth can forge, “I tend not to care about myself all that much which is why I tend to pay attention to other people. I feel an obligation to care about other people’s issues.”

“Why? “ I ask.

“Bad stuff has happened a lot in my life. I tend not to confront a lot of my issues because it’s not encouraged in my house. Particularly because I’m the first born. So I feel the responsibility to be ok all the time.  I guess because of that I get overwhelmed with a lot. I have major trust issues and I feel like I can’t really talk to anyone.” Y’s voice trembles, each word struggling to remain unsaid, “I feel like every time I do, they treat me like I’m a crazy person. Like I can’t be trusted with my own feelings. It changes people’s perception of me.”

“I heard a quote once,” I begin, “The schizophrenic is overwhelmed by too much possibility, the depressive sees none.”

They stared at me, and within each of their eyes sat a somniferous terror, the type that can be seen in the eyes of wildlife constrained by captivity, an acute sadness brought by the despair only a cage can provide. They are trapped by the ever closing walls of their minds, begging, screaming and kicking for a way out.

-Stanley Kalu

The Italian Job

So there we have it, thirteen arrests have been made on the cruel cheese mafia. They had the audacity to mix half cow and half buffalo cream to make the mozzarella cheese. Due to this alteration, the traditionally white mozzarella turns blue.

Traditionally, mozzarella cheese, highly prized by Italians, is made from pure buffalo milk.  This prized cheese is certified by the European Union with a Denominazione d’Origine Protetta, or DOP seal to certify as to its authenticity.  This special label is a guarantee of the quality and protects the reputation of the cheese, its manufacturers as well as the distributors.  Buffalo mozzarella cheese is used in a variety of popular Italian dishes such as Caprese sandwiches, pastas and especially pizza.

The violation occurred in a factory in southern Italy.  The perpetrators diluted the buffalo milk with cow’s milk which is significantly less expensive.  This substitution led to a twenty times higher concentration level of bacteria than is permissible. This high level of bacteria can cause the cheese to turn blue after a period of time. Police had to shut down several stores in the area that were selling the contaminated cheese.  Thirteen people were arrested as a result.

So much fuss over cheese? Is it justified? “Caveat emptor” – Let the Buyer Beware. Or not. Violations such as these are horrific and illegal.  Government organizations such as the FDA or Food and Drug Administration in the United States were created so that manufacturers would be held responsible and reprehensible for ensuring public safety.  This includes ensuring safe and appropriate ingredients are used, the process to create the products are tested and are safe, as well as ensuring adequate disclosure of these ingredients.

When a manufacturer substitutes ingredients in products which are commonly consumed, the buyer has no knowledge or protection.  Imagine if instead of mozzarella cheese, we were discussing a commonly used drug such as Aspirin or Tylenol. And what if the effects of the substitution were not tested, as in this case? And the results caused harm to the consumer? The manufacturer in this case, assuming that cow’s milk was “essentially” the same as buffalo milk, substituted it into the mixture and applied it to the process that was designed for the original ingredient. While the effects were not disastrous, at least not in the short term, the bacteria levels in the resulting product were extremely high.  As much as twenty time higher than what the Italian equivalent of the FDA considered permissible.

To ensure public safety, the product was pulled off the shelves from the stores that were selling it.  The people who violated and aided in the concealment of the violation were held accountable and were arrested.  This incident should serve as a warning to others who want to dupe the public. Say cheese.

– Adam Samji

A Post-season Look at the EPL

This past year of football has been a joy to behold, offering players and fans moments of inspiration, entertainment, drama and sheer ecstasy. The Premier League specifically has showcased amazing talents and has been magnificent. This will be a roundup of the Premier League, the winners, losers, and future endeavours.

The winners of the league were Manchester City and they fully deserved to win it. They showcased exemplary attacking football that was appealing to the eye. Unlike last year, Man City played with creative freedom. Utilising the attacking aspect of Yaya Toure and building on a solid team, they played well and won the trophy. This was not an easy task and surprise club Liverpool gave them a run for their money. Liverpool was undoubtedly the most entertaining side this year. They had some quality players such as Luis Suarez and Daniel Sturridge getting them the goals, but they also showcased young English talent in Raheem Sterling, Jordan Henderson and Jon Flanagan. Improving from a seventh place finish, they were undoubtedly the most surprising club one would’ve thought in the beginning of the year, to be in the mix for a title.

Two players definitely stood out over the rest and they were Liverpool’s Luis Suarez and Manchester City’s Yaya Toure. Toure’s blistering run of form, scoring 20 goals as a midfielder, was remarkable. He proved to be the inspiration City needed at a critical period in the title race and he delivered his talents. Luis Suarez is arguably the best footballer in the world. Scoring 31 goals in all competitions, he made his mark in the world of football positively. His flair, eccentricity and creativity were admirable.

Looking past the positives of the league, there were multiple disappointments. Manchester United was one of the top clubs that failed to impress. If you are a Manchester United fan, unfortunately, this season, was not a good one. From being the champions to finishing seventh is a huge hit especially when top investments made have failed to impress. Other clubs that have performed poorly are Fulham, Cardiff and Norwich, and they have been relegated.

There were also multiple players that severely disappointed the fans and spectators. Just a few names off that list are Maroune Fellaini, Tom Cleverly, Joy Alticor and Ally Cissokho. They all performed very mediocre and not up to par of their respective club’s standards. It was simply abysmal and the fan deserved much more from players of that calibre.

Looking to the next season, one can expect Man City to put up a strong fight again and one would expect them to win the league. Chelsea will invest in new players and so you can definitely see them in the title race. Liverpool, although entertaining, will struggle with the number of European games, so there might be a slight falter in their run of wins. One can also expect names like Lallana, Luke Shaw and even Tom Ince, the young English talent, to join bigger clubs due to the high level of performances.

–          Andrew Kumar

 

 

Why Do We Have an Awards Ceremony?

It happens every year. The fifth period bell rings on Thursday afternoons and people begin to crowd in the zone. We often anticipate the lovely ‘chill time’ that activity period offers. On this particular day, however, the atmosphere has a sense of dullness to it. There are students whining here and there like elementary school brats. “Ugh…Why do we have to go?” cries a student quietly as the teachers rush us into the auditorium. It’s the annual Awards Ceremony.

Curious to see why this was always the reaction, I went around asking a few students how they feel towards the awards system at Rosslyn Academy. A junior said, “The system is detrimental because it lowers the self esteem of those that don’t receive awards. ‘Everyone is a winner’ is cliché, but everyone should get something. Those who try harder get awards, but that doesn’t mean that those who don’t get awards are not trying. Awards should not be used to demarcate who you are or the effort you put into something.” Fair point well made.

Another anonymous student stated, “I feel like the same people get the academic awards each year, until they leave. Then the number two runner up becomes number one. Awards are so basic; diversify them. Make them exciting; we sit there in an almost religious silence, as people who we already know are smart are recognized for being smart.”

I asked a high school teacher, Mr. Lehman, what his thoughts were, and he said, “It’s good to recognize students who have demonstrated far more than just the highest GPA for example, intellectual virtues, tenacity, perseverance. Doing it publicly could make other students feel left out, but it’s good to publicly recognize people for sports, drama, art and etcetera, like at Roscars.”

In my poll, I was sure to ask those that receive numerous awards and those that have not received any academic awards in the past. Interestingly, even those that do receive awards year in year out, still felt like the award system was not fair and had a negative effect on those that didn’t receive any awards. Clearly, the student body at Rosslyn Academy detests the awards system to a certain extent. For some, it was a matter of making it more lively and interesting. The difference between Roscars and the academic awards ceremony is that Roscars is much more engaging and people actually want to attend the ceremony. Some suggested that attending the academic awards ceremony should; be made optional. Family and friends should be invited, but it should also be left open to those friends that wish to appreciate their peers.

What does the award system really do for students? Awards for students seem like such a powerful message because they say “We appreciate what you do.” It is a good message to send, but sending it once at the end of the year in a public assembly is problematic. It says, “We will reward you for your hard work, but only in this special public way.” Worse, when the message of recognition becomes a reward, especially one given frequently, it turns into an ugly ‘monster’. Students stop being interested in what they do, and become dependent on the external motivators, and some are even demotivated by the awards. It raises the question of whether learning is becoming a sport. For some, awards are so important to them that they work towards receiving awards, rather than engaging and truly learning the content. Students shouldn’t go to school to win, they should go to school to learn.

One student mentioned something about character awards that were given to students in middle school. Why are character awards no longer given to students? Rewarding students for their academic and extracurricular achievements alone sends the message that other things do not matter as much. That values such as intellectual virtues, tenacity and perseverance are not worthy of being recognized is what students may start to believe. If this is the mentality of most students, then the school must be going wrong somewhere. The award system has been around for ages; everywhere in the world and across different system schools. In as much as rewarding students for their hard work is good, is it worth all the negative aspects that come with it as well?

-Stephanie Mithika (2014)