Questioning Honours

Image from http://bit.ly/naHH9V

A few years ago, our school ended our traditional awards ceremony, student of the month awards, and honour roll. Instead we try to honour EVERY child for the strength and passion while challenging and encouraging them to grow in their areas in which they struggle. We continue to honour our academic students; however, now ALL children are honoured for who they are.

My question is: how important is it to publicly honour people? If we praised and challenged their efforts each day (ie. Dweck’s ‘Growth Mindset’), would we need to host public events to celebrate students?

Next time you discuss the select few that are honoured at your school, please reflect on the images from the Sagan Series and the words of Richard Feynman in this short video below.

Note: although the video mentions a religious figure, this post is in no way written to initiate a discussion around this but merely to question how society honours particular people, skill sets, and positions.

Thank you to @sheilaspeaking, @hhg, and @nunavuttweeter for bringing this video to my attention.

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Chris Wejr

Proud father of twin girls and a son. Currently working as the Principal of Shortreed Elementary School (K-5) in Aldergove, BC, Canada. Passionate about instruction, strengths-based education and leadership, reconciliation, assessment, and human motivation.


  1. Chris, this is a fantastic post and a wonderful video! It couldn’t have been shared at a more opportune time. On Wednesday, we’re discussing our Primary Awards Ceremony. I know that I’m one of the few at my school to feel the way that you do, and that’s okay. It took me a while to get to this place. Sharing your blog post with them might help them see the “other side” of this awards ceremony debate.

    Thanks for always sharing!

    • Aviva, I have emailed you some questions you might want to pose at your meeting this week. It is rare to see primary grades having awards ceremonies and I believe there is a reason for this. So much success in primary (and older) grades is dependent on other factors such as gender, date of birth, level of parent education and/or income, language, level of parent involvement, etc. Too many kids feel they cannot be successful in school as it is (Fixed Mindset). I am worried that the awards will further emphasize who the current winners and losers in the system are and make things even more difficult for those learners who are a bit behind. Let me know how the meeting goes!

  2. Chris,
    The video rang true with me. I remember coming home from school and having an arguement with my mom about the Pope. I told her the Pope was not infallible. In retrospect, I probably hurt her deeply because of her belief but it made no sense to me.
    I have had those feelings about many individuals in the world. If we honored each individual, as you stated in your post, I believe we would have a different world.

    • In the past few years, I have noticed so many people who have passed on received such beautiful tributes and honours. I always wonder why we wait until after someone is gone to honour them. I, too, wonder if we helped each child to develop their own genius within as well as challenged their areas of struggle… where we would be.

  3. Fantastic post and one that I will be reflecting on tonight. What strikes me first is how we love to separate humans. We seem to create caste systems wherever we are by bestowing authority and powers on who we consider popular. I even see this happening on Twitter. Making me think….

    • We LOVE to rank people and groups…. a great example of this are klout scores on Twitter. Why we need to rank people on their Twitter use is beyond me… but some people eat it up. Thanks for linking this thought!

  4. When my son was a little boy, he very much wanted to be the student council representative of his class; but I was told by his teacher that they could only select two. I believed then and stated that each child should have the chance to be a student council representative for a day, if not for a brief time period, or why not all in some fashion or another. This was symtomatic of something much bigger that later manifested itself, at least in my child, in a type of me versus them complex. I have always and still feel that each child’s worth is important, and must be developed at these early impressionable years. Thank you for your efforts in this regard.

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