First up was the obstacle course – there were 2 teams and each team member had to run the course in turn a bit like a relay. I got excited at first as my son’s team was winning, but they fell behind when one boy tripped over, so I cheered them on for encouragement, and the first round was completed enthusiastically. But soon boredom set in – the children started running past the obstacles instead of over them, or rearranging the course to make it easier, and some just gave up and started doing their own thing. By the time the bell rang to move on to the next event, the obstacle course was dismantled, the teams were muddled up, and half the players were just fooling around!
Long jump was the next event. At first I was excited about some actual competition, until I found there was no tape measure in sight. Not even a piece of string. Some of the boys did impressive jumps and they all had tremendous fun as you’d expect with boys and a sandpit. But with nothing to challenge them they soon resorted to demonstrating their best mid-air antics for the camera!
Next came the sack races – well actually there was no race at all, it was a complete free for all. After a couple of lengths of the ‘racetrack’ the boys just jumped around at leisure, banging and crashing into each other, tripping each other up, having lots of fun but achieving little.
To summarise the day:
1. No winners discovered the rewards of good effort.
2. No losers discovered that to get better they need to try harder.
3. All players discovered that it is OK to be mediocre, achievement isn’t necessary.
As a parent I found that very disappointing, and I walked home thankful that my son will be attending a new school next year.
The philosophy of “nobody is a loser” is idealistic and unrealistic. Learning to win and learning to lose is an important life skill our children need to develop.
Children need to learn that they don’t always win, that they’re not always great at everything, and that it’s alright to lose and feel disappointed.
They need to learn to try, try, and try again, or to try harder, or to try something else that they are good at.
We need to be honest and realistic about winning and losing, and about success and failure, because they will be sure to encounter both in their adult life.
It’s disingenuous to tell them they are doing well when they are not, and discouraging not to acknowledge when they accomplish something. We need to celebrate winning and achievement so our children will maximise their potential.
Otherwise our society will be just like the school sports day I went to – with no winners.