COMPETITION: A good learning opportunity

I was fortunate enough to be invited to the annual prize giving at the Duchess’s High School and had the opportunity to talk to the editor of the Northumberland Gazette, Paul Larkin, about celebrating our children’s accomplishments. It surprised me to learn that there are now real constraints as to what can be reported.

I had heard that there was to be no reporting of school winners in sport. Further, I learnt that even if the media could report the results, it is often not allowed to give the full facts. For example, it is not allowed to say if the goal difference is greater than five.

I was astonished by this. It doesn’t make any sense. What message does this send to our children? This evidently gives a false impression on what has happened in a match. We spend our lives tutoring children to tell the truth and not embellish the facts. Are we now saying that as adults it’s ok to do just that?

If there is to be no reporting on the winners of any sporting endeavour of anyone under 18, what is the point in having competition? By not reporting such accomplishments we are denying the winners the praise they deserve and we lose the opportunity to commiserate with the runners-up, giving them encouragement that they can achieve a better result next time.

Children learn through experience that life is a competition, be it academic, artistic, sport or playing games online. If we do not give credit where it is due, then we deny the future generation the experience of life’s triumphs, as well as an opportunity to cope with the inevitable disappointments that will occur throughout their lives.

I recall listening to a discussion on the radio about the 11+ exam and whether it had a positive or negative effect on those who failed. Many who spoke said it was the best thing that could have happened to them. Failing gave them the ‘kick up the Khyber’ they needed to succeed. Many, as a result, have gone on to become successful in their chosen field. If they had simply been allowed to go to the grammar school and been at the bottom of the class, they may not have had the same drive.

I’m not saying that competition works for everyone. However, for a good many, coming second or losing shouldn’t be seen as a failure, but a challenge in which to do better next time, or to choose another field in which they are better suited.

If the modern trend of ‘mollycoddling’ continues, all we will achieve is a generation who do not understand and cannot deal with any form of disappointment, or dare I say have the drive to succeed.

There will always be winners and losers. We owe it to our children to give them the opportunity to learn how to deal with both at an age where they can develop the skills to cope with the emotions that go with each event and have the means in which to succeed at whatever life throws at them in adulthood.

Carole Rae,

East Lilburn,