Principal Reverend Chris Ivey with 2018 college captains Harry Fry and Sarah Jackson.
Principal Reverend Chris Ivey with 2018 college captains Harry Fry and Sarah Jackson. Contributed

Awards slashed in principal's radical plan to end mediocrity

A SUNSHINE Coast principal has launched a campaign to end the celebration of mediocrity at his school, slashing participation awards and leadership positions.

St Andrew's Anglican College principal Reverend Chris Ivey said he wanted to motivate his students to work towards excellence, rather than just awards.

Mr Ivey said the school community was involved in the decision, which would see the students being recognised for going above and beyond what was expected of them.

This presentation night, parents can expect a smaller procession on stage as silver and bronze academic endeavour awards will be presented at a separate occasion.

"This decision was made after feedback from parents, staff and students that all St Andrew's students should reach these levels as a minimum requirement and therefore do not need to be formally recognised, but still praised by staff and parents," the principal said.

He said students could be motivated for intrinsic or extrinsic reasons. When students were encouraged to learn for extrinsic reasons, they made effort to receive an award or pass an exam, as opposed to learning to broaden their horizons and grown their own knowledge - intrinsic reasons.

By cutting back on ceremonial praise, Mr Ivey hoped that his students would begin to put in academic effort for the "right reasons".

"Students are driven to act for extrinsic reasons when they anticipate a tangible pay-off such as stickers, awards, grades, recognition of others. The action of learning only becomes a means to an end. By contrast, students who are intrinsically motivated, tend to engage in learning for its own sake; the reward resides in the action of learning itself," he said.

Should more schools stop celebrating mediocrity?

This poll ended on 15 December 2018.

Current Results

I don't think it's a good idea.

2%

Yes, it would push kids to do better.

79%

Maybe, as long as mediocrity isn't punished.

17%

This is not a scientific poll. The results reflect only the opinions of those who chose to participate.

Despite criticism that the new policy may be too harsh on young minds, he believed it was in the best interest of the students' futures.

He believed the idea of students learning to obtain awards ran deep in Australian education and the motivation behind a student's learning was rarely questioned.

The principal's case for change was backed by an "enormous body of research" that showed behaviours.



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