Gina Responds

Since I don’t enable comments (*sigh* spam), those who want to comment have to e-mail me. Here’s Gina’s response to my last post:

Dear R0ml,

I am writing to comment on your recent blog post, “Trophy Day”. In
paraphrasing what I meant, you may have unintentionally skewed my
ideas ever so slightly in order to facilitate the analogy between
Trophy Day and IT. As I have spent decades working with children,
however, I find it necessary to clarify my thoughts on this matter.
Although I was disturbed by what I observed at the event in question, I
considered myself heartbroken, not furious. OK – maybe I was a little
frustrated. And so I fumed. Just a little.

Yes, I believe that trophies should be reserved for the select few that
rise above. That’s how the world works, after all. Think National Merit
Scholarship, MacArthur Fellowship, Nobel, Tony, etc. I also agree that we set
our children up for an inevitable letdown when they reach that point in their
lives when they are no longer rewarded for simply showing up. However,
I am concerned that your readers think I believe such a meritocracy is
appropriate for the 3 to 5 set. I explicitly do not.

What concerned me most about “Trophy Day” was not that everyone received
a trophy as opposed to the few who earned it, but that there were any trophies
at all. I have taught gymnastics to preschoolers (numbering in the thousands)
and I have observed that the joy they experience is in the moment of motion,
and even more so in the acquisition of a much eluded skill, or the triumph over
a previous fear. It is NOT in getting a cold hard trophy to be photographed and
piled onto the heap of medals, certificates, and awards left to gather dust while
the ability to run, jump, swing, think, and take risks should last a lifetime.
Formalizing these achievements makes them an end, not a beginning.

It seems that we are conditioning our children to perform for a
reward, and not for joy. I happily noticed that only a fraction of the kids at
John’s event had learned this lesson, as most were still skipping from event
to event, oblivious of their parents and their requisite cameras, but I was saddened
nonetheless. It is only a matter of time until those eager, inquisitive, joyful children
forget what it feels like to really live as they themselves become the trophies of their
parents and grandparents, stiff, bored, and joyless.


And that, dear reader, is where (some) open source software comes from: the children who grew up to program for the joy of it.


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