I recently wrote an article, “Winners and Losers. The intellectual cost of labels”, in which I attempted to make the point that “labels” are dangerous to our intellectual development. I received some interesting responses:
- “This is a very Liberal article” and “if everyone is being told that being second is of no consequence, why would they ever strive to be first?”. She makes a few further points, “Growth depends on our ability to want to become more” and “I think it’s sad that kids are not allowed to “fail”. How will they ever feel the thrill of winning?” (The above quotes are a few of the many points that were made)
- Another reader commented that “I didn’t like being the last picked to play in sports”
- A reader stated that she liked the statement “Most successful people lose more times than they win” which she found helpful in lifting her morale during a challenging career event. She further adds “Although I do want my kids to realize and understand winning and losing, it doesn’t have to be in those exact terms” She further says that “kids who lose a game or something, don’t need to be punished when the winners are taken out for ice cream. Losing isn’t a bad thing, because so much growth can come from it!”
I am both thrilled and thankful for the opinions. However, I’m afraid that the point that I was trying to make was missed. I genuinely hope this helps to clarify my intended position.
I don’t like labels, whatever they are. I chose winners/losers as the article’s primary focus but it could just as easily have been crazy/sane, smart/stupid or kind/cruel. It really doesn’t matter as the thought that I was attempting to communicate was that once we label someone and no one asks “why’, we’re done. The label sticks and the brain stops.
Instead of defining ourselves with labels, we should be trying to learn “the why”. Why did I win, why did I lose, why are others calling that kid stupid, cruel or crazy? Thomas Edison scored a “win” because he made the light bulb; ok, I get that, but he’s bigger than that term. It should be, “tell me about the WAY in which Thomas Edison made the light bulb, including both his successes and failures”. And after the soccer game; “I know that I won/lost, but talk to me about “why” I won or lost. Either conversation improves me!”
My point is: Don’t label me or someone else and then move on, TEACH ME “THE WHY” SO THAT I CAN THEN LEARN. Why did I win?, why are you calling him cruel or stupid? STOP LABELING AND START EXPLAINING. It’s easy to label someone as this or that, but to have to explain it, especially to a child… It is at this humbling moment that we may actually, finally start to grow.