My daughter was in her school spelling bee yesterday. She placed third out od thirteen competitors. She has made it every year in to the spelling bee since they are allowed to start competing in spelling bees (2nd grade). Well, at least in our minds she has made it every year. Third grade year, the teachers decided to qualify the children differently for the spelling bee than the way every other class determines who is in the spelling bee. That year, they had the typical spell off, and my daughter came in second, which would have normally qualified her because they take the top three from each classroom plus an alternate. But that year, they decided that they should give children a chance who didn’t get a chance the year before. It was not based on any sort of spelling ability whatsoever.
I suspect that since she attends a private school, that some politics were at play that year. Certain parents volunteer all the time and donate lots of money and while many have the best of intentions, I am sure, like many other areas in life, people can buy and favor their way through life.
When the new principal came to the school in her fourth grade year and asked for suggestions, one of the things I added in my email was regarding the qualifying methods for spelling bees. I spoke of how things got suddenly changed for third grade and how no other grade functioned that way. Considering they send the winner of the middle school spelling bee on to regionals and further if they win, they should be representing the school with their best spellers. They should not be attempting to placate children and parents. A competition is a competition and excellence in something such as that should be uncompromising.
Children need to be taught how to lose and how to work to achieve something. My daughter has not won any of the spelling bees. She has not taking losing very well either until this year. She finally took it well this year because I have been working with her on this concept. It is extra challenging for her because she has Asperger’s. But I continue to encourage her to strive for excellence and explain to her when she doesn’t make things that she tries tri for that there are others that are better than her at some things. Everyone has strengths and weaknesses. It is ridiculous that a Catholic School promoted that weak model of “competition” where children are taught to think that they can be simply chosen for things that they did not achieve. This simply furthers the gross entitlement issue that is a pandemic in this era. When I was growing up, hard work was the uncompromising value, and I think each subsequent generation is losing sight of this. It scares me to ponder the state of this world as I grow older and as we have to turn it over to the hands of our children and grandchildren.