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Winners are losers

Rhona Canoy

…. SINCE nobody is perfect, I must come to terms with the occasional stalling of my usually optimistic nature. And I suppose it’s about that time of year when I reach my frustration point with all the kids and parents but this time around I’m trying my darnedest to see the bigger picture. Through the years of being judgmental towards the parents and kids who haplessly cross my path, I only myopically saw what I assumed to be shortcomings and narrow-mindedness on their part.

Since I have had the wondrous opportunity to distance myself from my life, it occurs to me that a lot of the negative things we see on the news is actually a result of how parenting has devolved through the generations. Before reading on, please be advised that all the conclusions you are about to encounter are results of my socio-psychological dementia which surprisingly seems to be shared by some discriminating thinkers.

Let me start with the most basic of all parental delusions—that our offspring are our possessions and, as such, are ours to do with as we please. I mean, really. Behavioral expectations, academic expectations, social expectations which we have of them don’t seem to be based on what is best for them but, rather, what is best for us. Oh, yes. We can wallow in our denial for as long as we want, but the truth is we make these children jump through our hoops at our command and for our pleasure.

I’ve been talking about this before in previous mental meanderings, and I cannot come back to it enough. Parental pride in a child’s alleged academic performance surely shines brighter than the sun. And I suppose it should. After all, the financial investment in tutors is a big part of educational expense. As parents, we will unhesitatingly storm the teacher’s domain, aggressively and unreasonably demanding an explanation as to why our child’s grade is displeasing to us.

We are raising a generation of younglings who are programmed to seek external affirmation. Who feel entitled to better treatment because parents have programmed them that way. Since when have tutors become a way of life?

Statistically speaking, we have more students in private schools who have personal tutors than any other country that I know of. But what does this do? It creates children who cannot solve problems without assistance, lazy children who don’t have to try so hard because they have paid help, and children who are praised and rewarded by parents who aren’t there to help them with their lessons as if these kids have found a cure for cancer and Aids in the span of one school quarter.

Unwittingly, these children are primed to treat the world as a competitive arena, where they are expected to be the best and to stay the best. On the surface it sounds laudable. But is it? Is it? Remember that competition is based on the premise that there are going to be winners and losers. And no parent wants their child to be the loser in the bunch. So parents will invest everything (except their time and presence) to ensure their child’s “success”.

But we live in a world where cooperation and working together are key to our survival. And the people who find themselves in key leadership and power positions are those who were primed to be winners. Hardly any winner can be a memorable leader because the threat of being overshadowed by another, and the compassion and wisdom to be nurturing and encouraging to those with potential are skills which have been denied them in their formative years. Winners have been primed to want to stay on top, at all cost. And to crush the competition.

And winners become crabs. You know? The kind that gave rise to the term “crab mentality”. Sadly, we Filipinos take this with us no matter where we go. So are we becoming a country of self-absorbed, self-centered, compassionless people? I go back to the premise that parents through the generations have worked hard to make this devolution a reality. And maybe this downhill trend will continue for as long as we have no regard for the future generations except as trophies who will achieve the “success” we were not able to reach.

So today I’m discouraged.

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About Rhona Canoy

Rhona Canoy
Rhona Canoy is the president and head administrator of International School CDO. Bon vivant, raconteur, epicure, mental voyeur, occasional Yoda. You may address her as "The Intelligent Loquacious Wildly Eccentric Sometimes Inebriated Honest But Sarcastic Essential B*tch."

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