Coming back from yet another prize-giving I have to say: I don't think so. The faces of the "winners" expressed a range of feelings from excitement to embarrassment. The excitement faded rather soon whereas the embarrassment stayed a bit longer. Why? "I think there are others who deserve a prize as well - and they didn't get one", answered one boy my question. "Everybody tries hard and gives their best", said a girl with a winning trophy in her hands. The faces of those who weren't acknowledged with a price speak for themselves.
Meanwhile, there are many studies showing that awards, prizes and the likes do not improve achievement and performance levels in teams. classes or groups. The opposite is the case. In most cases, the negative consequences prevail: increase of competitiveness, frustration and loss of motivation, less solidarity and team spirit.
Do we want to nurture these "qualities" in our societies?
Indigenous cultures acknowledge and honour each individual for his/her unique skills and abilities. They do not rank one individual above another because they know about the undesirable side effects. Ranking complicates community building, group spirit, and a peace- and trustful environment where people can grow and reach their unique potential. If we want to create spaces where everyone feels safe and encouraged to express themselves freely and to give their best, then we need to let go of ranking systems (including marks, assessments, titles, etc.). It is time that we realize that they no longer serve us - in fact that they never have.