Awards & Recognitions

In my previous article, "Discovering & Nurturing Our Child's Gifts" , I have expressed my opinion on the need for us to discover and nurture our children's gifts. There is no other thing worth our while than that if we want to be instrumental in turning our kids into individuals that can or have achieved their full potential as God has designed them to be. Seen in this light, it is not only important but it becomes our duty as parents. The second part of this parenting responsibility is nurturing and it is in this area that I would like to dwell in this article.

There are times when even the Lord has to take a thing in nature to teach simple but unalterable truths. In his wise words Solomon would often tell the people to consider the ants, or the locust, even the sluggard. A dog trainer will always tell us that we cannot teach a dog any trick or skill unless we reward its correct behaviour with something positive, food, a rubbing of the head and neck, etc. Psychologists call it positive reinforcement. When applied to people, it becomes something more that what it does to the dog or any other creature lower than man. An award becomes a recognition of an achievement. At Eastbridge we call it a celebration of gifts. In many ways, this is a positive thing.

First, by recognition of a child's gifts, we slowly build their sense of significance. That they are important as an individual, and that what they do is something that is useful and impacts their environment.

Second, by recognition, they become aware of the things they are capable of and that a good use of these things can lead to many pleasant results. It then motivates them to achieve more.

Third, recognition also puts into context the idea of levels of achievement. As levels of awards and frequency of awards are made distinguishable to the child, he or she begins to associate this with levels of achievement. The concept of non-performance and thus low or no reward is understood. Participation begins to assert its importance if recognition is to be obtained.

Fourth, this is a good opportunity for the teacher or parent to teach competition in a healthy context. Included in this lesson is the idea of losing and winning. When properly handled, the child is able to develop a healthy idea of competition where winning does not become everything but still retains its significance over mere participating or losing. On the other hand, losing does not become an ignominious event. It makes the child aware of his limitations. There is nothing more disastrous than a person so full of himself he thinks he is superman.

A good teacher and parent can also take losing experience as a valuable object lesson in overcoming. That losing may just be a temporary setback and can still be overcome. Thus, losing is an opportunity for self-analysis and evaluation. One can either take it as a challenge or a signal to change direction.

This March 19, as Eastbridge holds its first Recognition and Moving-Up Program, we will be handing out awards and recognitions. In a traditional school system, these awards will be limited to a few students and only for a few subject areas. But in the MI environment in which The Eastbridge School operates, this will not be so. The very idea of multiple intelligences presupposes that in each and every child is a gift, some obvious, some are not. This time, it is the responsibility of the school to highlight this hidden gift which should have been discovered throughout the school. (For a  complete discussion of these intelligences, please read the article written by the school directress "What Is Multiple Intelligences" .) But lest one thinks that handing out so many awards lessens its significance, let me put this award giving in perspective.

Again, in a traditional setting, if your child is not good in the academics, he or she is practically written off as not as bright as those who achieved better grades. The implication of this is that the child has less of a chance to be good at anything and traditional teachers and schools either would never bother to discover the not-so-obvious gifts or they will just pay a cursory attention to it. Some of these children will by chance discover their gifts by themselves, or be pointed out to it by some observant person. But there may be countless more who will just grow old without realizing their potential, all for the lack of recognition.

In an MI setting like The Eastbridge School, one of our main goals is to discover your child's gifts. We use play, academics, manipulations of objects, music, drama, nature, and a host of other activities and methodologies to dig deep down into the child's being. We offer them the environment to show themselves, challenge them, push them to try hard, let them loose and be what they are, etc. If one is aware enough as to what to look for, sooner or later, the hidden becomes apparent. Many of our parents may have been aware already through our PTC about their kid's talents and gifts. Many of these are non-academic as Dr. Gardner who formulated the MI Theory listed eight such intelligences to which we added one more - Spiritual Intelligence.

Your child may not be a great scientist in the molds of Einstein or a Newton, but he or she may be a great dancer in the molds of Mikhail Baryshnikov or Anna Pavlova if she has bodily kinesthetic intelligence. He or she may not be an excellent writer of books and novels in the Molds of Tolstoy or Hemmingway but the child may just someday be a great musician. Nuturing doesn't just require that we give them the tools that they need to develop their talents and gifts. We also give them recognition and awards. It's so true in the adult world with the likes of Nobel Prize and Oscars. It's also so true in the child's world, even more so.

Thus this award and recognition on March 19 is in many ways a celebration of excellence. We are created in the image of God who Himself is excellent. The bible says "...whatever is of good report,...think on these things...[Phil. 4:8]" From where we stand, discovering and recognizing your child's gift is a thing of good report. And in this, we would like to start a tradition. We may excuse mediocrity as sometimes it is a fact of life. But we will celebrate the best of what the Lord has given, especially if it has the potential of someday becoming great.

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