Not one but two Kind Readers sent the link to this article. It seems more appropriate for the Onion, but it’s all too real.
The library director in Hudson Falls, NY wants to change the rules of the summer reading club. That’s almost understandable. Even major sports sometimes change their rules.
The kicker is why she wants to change the rules and what she wants to change them to.
First, the why. She’s apparently tired of the same little boy winning the reading club every year. It seems he’s won five years in a row.
Normally, the librarian instinct would be to celebrate such a fact. The kid read 63 books in six weeks this summer. He should be celebrated as a champion of literacy.
Instead, he’s make the librarian want to change the rules. Supposedly, “other kids quit because they can’t keep up.” The poor little babies.
So she wanted to change the rules so that the winner isn’t the person who reads the most books, because that would be too fair or something. Instead, she wanted the winner to be a name that she drew out of a hat, because everyone should feel above average.
Based on the article, she doesn’t seem to regret wanting to destroy the whole dynamic of reading clubs, which is to get people reading by rewarding the people who read the most books. No, she’s only refraining from the rule change because the kid’s mom went public with the scandal, which we should now call Readingclubgate.
I’m still trying to figure out the logic behind the attempted rule change. Okay, so some kids drop out because they can’t keep up. If they can’t keep up, maybe they should just read more books, and if they can’t read more books, they need to learn to accept that there’s someone who’s a faster reader than they are.
It’s called life. There’s always someone who’s better than you at something. They only need to read 10 books to be invited to the party. If they can’t do that in 6 weeks, then maybe they should drop out.
Where else would anyone expect this attitude that reward should be randomized?
Certainly not in school. Do kids drop out of school because they’re getting much worse grades than other kids? Actually, they do. Is the remedy just to give As to random students?
The reading club is a competition. It’s a competition for geeks, and who better to understand that than librarians. We librarians probably read more books on average during our youth than the rest of the youths combined. Aren’t geeks allowed to have competitions, too?
Athletic children get to compete at things. Schools don’t just randomly assign children to play quarterback or shortstop. Children compete for these slots.
Besides the reading club, what have the geeks got? Science fairs? Maybe some schools give everyone a participation ribbon so they don’t feel like the scientific losers that they are, but only the best projects get the top honors.
And after all, the kid’s entering fifth grade. He’s not going to be competing in these much longer. The next champion will be his little brother, who has won second place the last two years. But after a few more years, those kids will be all grown and the lesser mortals can get the chance to compete again.
With all the ruckus, at the very least the kid should feel good about himself. He’s a kid who was so outstanding at something, who was so much better at something than everyone else, that he caused someone to want to change the law of fairness itself so that the losers way behind him wouldn’t feel bad about themselves.
That’s quite an accomplishment for a 9-year-old.