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At schools all around New Zealand prizegiving is coming up to recognise and celebrate students who have worked hard and achieved highly. Most schools use these sorts of schemes to reward their “star pupils.” But there is often some form of unease among teachers and parents who argue awards can do more harm than good: that, if not managed carefully, they encourage unhealthy competition or an expectation of reward. So does this mean we should cancel prizegiving’s altogether? Absolutely not!

While I agree that there is a wrong way to do prizegiving, that doesn’t mean there isn’t a right way. It also doesn’t mean that students who have worked hard all year should not be acknowledged. Students are often very enthusiastic about awards they receive, not only does it make them feel proud of themselves, but it helps them to realise teachers really notice everybody.

I believe that awards inspire students to work to their highest potential. Giving out an award to students who have achieved something is a way to make students feel like they can achieve something if they work hard. This helps young people to learn early on that their actions can have an effect on how they will do in life and that the harder the work the more they will achieve.

It is also a mechanism to promote a little bit of healthy competition. With a goal for students to work towards students will be encouraged to complete their work to the highest standard possible, rather than just complete it to a passable standard. At the end of the day, competition is a factor in life that will show up time and time again in the workplace. School is a good place to learn how to treat competition in a healthy manner, without letting it take over your life! It seems like there is no better place to start being competitive than in your years at school.

Giving out awards at school encourages kids to not just get passing grades, but to strive to get the best possible grades they can. If you don’t get any more credit for getting amazing grades, what is the point for working hard? Would this leave kids thinking all they need to do is the bare minimum? Awards encourage kids to do their best and getting recognition will make them want to do just that little bit more.

An awards ceremony is a special day for many students receiving awards, and it gives an opportunity for the students to be recognized by their peers, teachers and family members that have supported them throughout the years. However, if you are going to award certificates, the key thing is to make sure they are inclusive. There is something in every child to recognise. Categories should be all-inclusive, covering every subject and after-school activity, from theatre to dance to speech and debate. This gives the opportunity for students to be recognized for things other than grades.

At the end of the day, prizegiving is just one day out of the whole year. It is designed for the school community to feel happiness for their peers, not jealousy. Are we really so scared to celebrate success?

Critical Thinking Questions:

  1. Can you think of any flaws with this opinion?
  2. What are some cons of prizegiving? Does it make students feel left out?
  3. Should prizegiving celebrate more than academic success?

Practical Thinking Questions:

  1. Ask your peers and/or your teacher what they think about prizegiving. Do they think it is a good idea.
  2. Has prizegiving motivated you to work harder? Why/why not?
  3. Explain how you think prizegiving should be run and what awards should be given.

“Were you born in a tent?” You turn around to see your dad standing there looking at you with an expression that says, “are you kidding me?”
The only problem is, you have no idea what he means. Well, research reveals that what he expressly means when he uses this phrase is simply that he wants you to close the door. However, what he really means is that he wants you to keep warm. Whether it makes sense or not, this is his unique way of caring about you.

It’s not unusual for parents to express themselves in strange ways… We all know this from what seems like a lifetime of embarrassment! But is it unusual to worry about a tiny breeze coming in, when we are so often exposed to the cold and the outdoors? Why does it matter that we stay completely toasty-warm in some instances, and in other instances when we are cold we are told to “toughen up?” Which is the right advice to follow?

Let me provide some examples here! It seems acceptable to be cold when: swimming in the pool, training for cross-country, visiting the snow, walking to school on a windy day, on a wintry day but you have to eat lunch outside like usual, the list goes on. However, if you leave the door ajar and the slightest breeze drifts in to your house you are immediately told off. When you are walking out the door to go out, I bet your mum always tells you to go back and get a jacket – even if its barely cold! So why is it that sometimes we get asked if we were born in a tent, and sometimes we feel like we wish we were in a tent – at least it would be warmer than sitting on the frosty school field at 9am in your P.E. shorts! 

This is a difficult question as there doesn’t seem to be a direct answer! From what I can tell, sometimes adults think that a little bit of cold won’t hurt you, but the majority of the time, they want us to be toasty and warm. As it turns out, the effects of cold weather go beyond the feelings of numbness we may develop. Coincidentally, a shiver serves almost the same purpose as a fever. It’s a warning from our body that we’ve gotten too cold, and bad things will happen unless we warm up again. I guess that is why sometimes it is okay to be cold for a short period of time, so long as you are quick to warm up again!

One of the best ways to keep healthy is to keep warm as the cold weather can affect your body’s ability to fight off viruses and infections. It’s unlikely that staying warm will be a matter of life and death, but it could be a matter of health and well-being.

I guess that’s why it wouldn’t be ideal to be raised in a tent! You’d probably catch your death after all. So make sure you stay wrapped up nice and warm this winter – as my grandma says:

Whether the weather is hot,

Whether the weather is not,

We’ll weather the weather,

Whatever the weather,

Whether we like it or not!

Critical Thinking Questions:

  1. What happens to your body if it gets too cold? What are the different stages.
  2. What can you do if you are too cold to warm up properly?
  3. How do our bodies handle the different weather during the winter? Are we made to handle the cold?

Practical Thinking Questions:

  1. Think of some of the sayings your parents have said to make sure you stay warm. Do you friends hear the same sort of things from their parents?
  2. Do you prefer the winter cold or the summer heat? Why?
  3. What is a situation where you are cold but you don’t mind? (i.e. going swimming in the ocean in the middle of winter but you don’t mind because you’re having a great time with your mates).