When I was a kid, one hundred or so years ago, awards at school tended to be restricted to those who performed superlatively at sports.
Linda Moger, who could run a long distance race in the time it took me to get to the fish and chip shop for scraps on a sneaky lunchtime leave of absence from school. (I just Googled Linda and there she is, still in Southampton, still running – now in Race for Life. All power, Linda).
Sonia Richards, who was bustiest blonde netball GA ever in the whole universe. It’s true. Her beautifully poised shots had the whole team frozen in awe, let alone the opponents.
Karen Wilson whose javelin throwing took the school records to new heights (and lengths). I was a poor sequel to Karen when she left for sixth form, although I once achieved second place in Southampton School Athletics, mainly because only one other competitor turned up on the day.
Sports supremoes deserve awards. They are the rightful gods and goddesses of a school, in charge of the honour of the entire school against every other dastardly (and no doubt poor) educational establishment in the local area. Or at least, they were.
Now it seems there are awards for everything. How about the award for being the smiliest student that ever walked the planet? Or the award for being a pain in the arse and getting away with it. The award for managing to get to school every day, rain, snow, floods and scarlet fever notwithstanding. The award for never having missed the school bus. I know someone who was never going to win that one. Eh, daughter?
But of course, it doesn’t matter what the award is for. When the winner of the award is announced, it will be from a particular cohort of children. The shining ones, the blessed. I discovered recently that even the children who win awards have been heard to say “It’s always the same people….”.
I am delighted for the blessed. I know many of them at our local school and they are, without a doubt, deserving.
But the whole culture can create a have/have not scenario. As in those that have an award to pin to their corkboard or place on their bookshelf, and those that don’t. The award winners are the ones that will go on to do well (we know this because we have been told).
Is it just me, or does this not infer that those who never win awards, and there are many, are less likely to amount to anything? Just me, then.
There may be a tiny chip on my shoulder here for the lack of trophies gained during my own school life. Though I did actually win an award at primary school, I’ll have you know. It was a Platinum Pen award for the best illustration of a poem. And indeed, I won a Platinum Pen (from the cheaper end of the range).
Did this award mean that I went on to do well?
One thing’s for sure, it was not as an illustrator.