COMMUNITY OPINION: Everyone can have a gold star

Randy Logue writes that society should encourage strengths and respect and value all kinds of talent and intelligence.

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As someone who old enough to have attended elementary school in the ’60s and early ’70s and junior and senior high school in the ’70s. I remember teachers giving out gold stars. I remember trophies given for victory in athletic competitions, pinewood derbies, and dog shows in the recreational division. I remember Boy Scouts starting with Weebelos earning the 15 service pins and then Boy Scouts earning badges of merit.

There were measurable criteria to earn them and until you met the criteria you didn’t receive the pin or badge. My youngest daughter attends one of the local martial arts organizations and when they test for a belt they have a list of moves they must master before black belts to get promoted. The reality is that not everyone has won the gold star, and the vast majority of us have dealt with it.

Not winning didn’t destroy us, it made us work harder to reach the goal next time, or that if we didn’t win we would actually survive. If you were lucky enough to win, you gained a lot of real self-esteem, and if you didn’t win, you found you had three choices: get better, change activities, or mope.

Since our parents and teachers didn’t allow swiping as an option, we either worked to improve or we decided to try a different activity or play a different position from where we were right now. Our expectations were realistic.

This notion that everyone wins and that we all deserve a trophy has done irreparable harm to our children.

The reality is that not everyone can perform brain surgery, not everyone can be an NFL quarterback, not everyone can paint a masterpiece, not everyone can do integral math, not everyone can build a bridge, not everyone can finish concrete, not everyone can preach can preach, but I would argue that everyone has something they are good at and that is where their self worth and self esteem comes from.

The problem in our society, and in education in particular, is that we don’t value anything other than book knowledge or some sort of athletic or artistic talent. So 15 children submit a book review and although there are actually two or three that are far from the best, each gets a smiley face stamp. 200 people take part in a 5K run and everyone gets a medal, although some ran under 20 minutes and others took 50 minutes.

Would you like to fly on an airplane with a pilot who got the best marks in his practical exercises, or with the one who hardly stopped by or had some accommodations? At some point talent counts!

What I’m going to say next may really surprise you, but I think everyone can get a gold star, but not in the same activity. The key is to find out what every child, every adult, every person is good at, nurture and build on those strengths and as a society respect and value all kinds of talent and intelligence.

There is a multiple intelligence test in which there are eight identified intelligences. One of them is a naturalist. I agree that there are some people who are as adept at thriving in nature as some are in their math class. There is interpersonal intelligence and there is no doubt that arbitrators, negotiators and advisors are very adept at it. There’s spatial intelligence, linguistic, artistic, kinesthetic (basically athletic) and a few others.

The point is that each of us is good at something, the problem is that society in general and school in particular places less value on some than others, but that doesn’t mean I or anyone can’t find our talents good .

You hear the word diversity thrown around like a magic word, but it always refers to race, gender, etc. But what about diversity of thought? talent diversity? Variety of gifts?

I firmly believe that every human being is a unique and talented individual endowed by their Creator with the three inalienable rights. Anyone can win a gold star, just not all in the same activity.

Submitted sincerely, Randy Logue

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