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Beyond honors, medals and awards

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‘TIS THE season of meticulous deliberations and lengthy discussions for most schools as School Year 2022-2023 is about to end formally. One might think that with the issuance of DepEd Order No. 36, s. 2016, parents will better understand the meaning of year-end school awards and appreciate the process that schools follow carefully to determine the most rightful recipients of honors and awards. 

Issued on June 7, 2016 and with the interim guidelines contained in DepEd Order No. 18, s. 2021 issued on May 25, 2021, this DepEd policy recognizes the profound effect of awards and recognition on learners’ morale, motivation, self-efficacy, and commitment to perform consistently and strive to do better. 

What makes this DepEd order truly commendable is that it gives all students the same opportunities to “excel in relation to the standard set by the curriculum and focus on their own performance rather than to compete with one another.” It also highlights the importance of a paradigm shift – for schools “to veer away from putting value only on academic achievement based on high grades and then move towards valuing and celebrating a wide range of student achievements.”

So, what makes the deliberations stressful and sometimes controversial, you may ask?

Trust me, it is definitely not because many students are highly qualified for an award and teachers have to go over the nitty-gritty results to ensure every single point and score is accounted for. In fact, the policy allows schools to declare more than one truly deserving winner for each award and conversely, discourages the giving of a particular award when no one is deserving. 

Believe me, it is also not the students. More often than not, the students running for honors and other awards are good friends in and outside the school. They belong to the same club or organization and have worked together for a common school advocacy over the years, and have shared similar passion and interests outside of school work. Because they have been oriented well enough on the DepEd policy, they definitely know and understand the process. They are also aware of each other’s body of work and accomplishments during the school year so much so they can predict, with an almost perfect accuracy, the recipients of the exemplary awards. 

It is when parents become grade- and award-conscious that the deliberations and the year-end ceremony become muddled in their own definition and interpretation of fairness. Their concerns and complaints range from the trivial to the petty, and sometimes to the most absurd.

“My daughter was rank 1 last school year, why is she rank 2 this school year? This year’s rank 1 was only rank 3 last year!” The fallacy of the golden past! A person is only as good as his/her previous best. As he/she strives very hard to maintain his/her rank, isn’t it possible that others are striving just as hard or even harder? 

“I know my son’s capabilities. I know that he is the best in his class. He gets perfect scores in all his exams. I also know him to be the most behaved because at home, he is always silent and never raises his voice at anyone.” We respect how parents claim that they know their children very well. But remember, this is not a matter of how well they know their children. Truth be told, there are other learners in the class or in a school organization, and there are other teachers who observe and interact with these students. It is common knowledge that a child behaves differently when at home and when in school, or any other setting. Lest these parents forget, their children are in school from 7 a.m. to 4 p.m., and this is the time when their behavioral traits are observed. 

“This is an unfair and biased deliberations. You obviously showed favoritism. You have your biases because that parent gave snacks to all of you when her son celebrated his 7th birthday.” Really now? Can parents go this low to accuse teachers, their children’s second parents, to be swayed by others over free snacks or a simple Christmas gift? As most teachers would say with a flip of their hair ala Pinky Webb, “Nanu naman mo ing akwa mi kareng awards aren? Magpakapagal kami keng deliberations para misabyanan antyan?”

These are some of the most common complaints we hear every year. There are more; a three-part column will not even be enough. 

The schools conduct orientation at the start of the year, discuss these during parent-teacher conferences, and go many lengths to ensure fairness and objectivity in determining the recipients of honors and awards. Schools take the deliberations to heart. But to parents who have closed their minds and who have kept themselves locked conveniently in their own biases, no explanation is enough.

At the end of the day, we should always remember that “With Character” is far more important than “With Honors” and “With Awards.” This goes true for both students, and their parents. 

 

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