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Wednesday, April 23, 2008


Your lament resonated with both K and I. It is heartbreaking to see what some children have to cope with before their time.

In fact, it touches tangentally, on a topic that we have mused over for sometime now, and which was highlighted by the recent piano competitions. It is a well known (though oft denied fact), that many of the high achievers at such competitions, are often forced to spend inordinate amounts of time (hours, at the sake of all else) practising in order to "achieve". Kids have to undertake pieces over and above what their ages should be expected to be able to cope with. I find it such an anomaly, that we would decry such practices, and yet, we affirm the very same actions, by giving these children the 1st, 2nd, and 3rd place rankings, the scholarships, and the prizes. Don't get me wrong - it is a good thing to laud achievement, because otherwise, we would be advocates of the "Tall Poppy Syndrome" and that would be a far worse crime! But should we limit or even prohibit the opportunities to strive for achievement? We recognise the need to raise the bar so that children can reach their full potential. But in doing so, the bar gets raised so high that kids who are just plain, joe-average kids no longer have the opportunity to take part in such competitions, because the levels are unattainable.

SO! I feel frustrated at the conundrum I see before me...

If kids are talented and want to do well, should they succumb to the temptation to put all life-balance aside so that they can match the levels encouraged by increasingly competitive parents, OR should they resist, and eventually drop out altogether, thus never reaching their latent potential?
Playtime sounds like a marvellous idea...


Anonymous said...

Children come into this world needy and naked. From then on every path is different. A community raises a child in many ways, it's a huge load. Every child has great potential and some children are blessed to be exposed to many different areas where talent can bloom. Every child should be praised for their positive achievements, but are they? Children also need to be exposed to others talents so they have an appreciation for different giftings. Attitude cripples achievement at all levels. "Tall Poppy Syndrome" can come from those who have unfulfilled dreams/goals/wishes themsehelves and project that in a negative way to those who step out and up. Let's teach our young to play, to love to go for it and to know they've given their best. The power of one has always been powerful throughout history, everyday our young are touching others one by one. Let's play and release some laugher and hope it rubs off. "Cowards behave because of fear. Heros behave inspite of fear."

Anonymous said...

In this day and age our children are our responsibility. And for the short time we have them, we are the stewards that God has given to them. We have a mandate from God to provide our children with the best of what is in us in order for them to be who God wants them to be. This therefore includes our expectations, our giftings, our character, those with whom we allow them to come in contact with, and the environments with which we expose them too. Balanced with the 'fruits of the spirit' and God in the midst, AWESOME! In time they will flourish into their own, but for now, they remain with us.

Fortunately for some children they have ample opportunity to learn and development in such an environment, however for some this is not the case. There are many reasons, many questions and sadly our governments are having to intervene on behalf of the children. Why? because we the adults have let them down.

"Tall Poppy Sydrome", comes from those who value and respect their children, those who invest their time and love.

Anonymous said...

Each child has been gifted with unique talent(s) and I just believe that we as parents should expose them to different things whenever we can, so the child later can see and decide the path they want to keep going.
We don't have to be well-rounded, good at everything, thank God for that. The things that we love most, the things that make our heart beats faster, the things that keep us want to achieve, the things that we'll miss without. I hope that's what I encourage my children to persevere.
With some children, it might be sports. Those who swim and want to be champion swimmers, they might swim for hours daily. The same should be the case in other fields such as arts and music. Those who want to be great musicians should practice until they can play the pieces perfectly. Even if other people would see it as them not being out there and play. If they, the children, are happy to do that, then so be it.
As my husband would say, a whole day of sitting and playing guitar and enjoying the music would be a blast, he'd be all relaxed, and ready for anything that comes his way. That's his "play" time.
In every competition, the expectation should be that the bar is raised everytime. That's why the olympics/world records are kept. Only the best of the best is worthy to be mentioned, not the average joe. If -- to those who have done marvelous preparation to be and achieve the best -- we say, you should do other things, not just that; only to satisfy those who do just a bit less than marvelous. Well ... won't we be giving mix signal to our children that giving the best is only acceptable if it doesn't seem too much for most people?
Just a thought.

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