Sir Edmund Hillary, who was the first to climb Mt. Everest, once said, “It is not the mountains we conquer but ourselves.” When we recognize students’ achievements, like their being named to the MAIS (Mississippi Association of Independent Schools) Honor Society for academic performance, we do more than acknowledge a job well done. We acknowledge that students have, in some way, conquered themselves.
Despite evidence to the contrary, the “everyone’s a winner” philosophy, which seeks to make children feel successful in school, has been a disastrous educational fad in America. The truth is that most children are not fooled by it. They know when they are given something, and they know when they achieve something. In the short term, they like the ease of being given a grade, or a trophy, or an allowance they did not earn; they know, however, that they did not earn it. The interesting thing about that is that instead of building their self-esteem, such “awards” undermine it. Children may not articulate it, but being given these things when they have not been earned makes children question whether they are competent and able to win the prize.
Boys who doubt their competency do not want to be shown to be incompetent, and it is that fear that often motivates them to withdraw from the challenges of life, and become either passive or rebellious. Thus, one of the first things boys have to conquer on their way to manhood is their fear of challenge, to help build the self-confidence needed to overcome obstacles.
Chamberlain-Hunt students daily face unavoidable challenges, whether spiritual, social, physical or intellectual. When they conquer, they know they have achieved. Such victory can change their lives forever.
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