I was intrigued by the following article that I cam across this weekend:
For me, this is a welcome trend since this is an award that, I believe, is less about learning and more about achievement. The valedictorian at a school could be a fearless and passionate learner. However, it seems that sometimes this person is simply someone who “does school” very well — who follows directions, gets work completed on time, memorizes for tests with excellence, etc.
I don’t want to take anything away from past and present valedictorians. These students have incredible work ethics and are no doubt prepared to lead in our society. What I question is whether the title itself is really honoring what we want it to honor. In some cases, I am sure that great learning has taken place for a valedictorian. In others, I think that following the expectations of school became more important than the learning that took place. The achievement trumped the learning.
If we were to acknowledge someone who was the most passionate and engaged learner in a school, what would that look like? How would we decide? What would be the characteristics of this person? In other words, how can we honor learning as much as achievement?