Mother: My daughter with ADHD won “Most Likely To Not Pay Attention" award

Credit: Maureen Downey

Credit: Maureen Downey

I was just telling my husband American schools would have a lot easier task if they focused on academics and ceased the proms, the sports and the other assorted extracurriculars grafted onto their original mission to teach reading and math. Because those extras sap time and energy and are often the source of parent complaints and student disappointments.

Here's another one to add to the list of extras that can bring headaches: Award ceremonies, especially those built around so-called fun awards.

I went to an award ceremony this week where a student was recognized for effort, including "raising her hand even when she doesn't know the answer." I am not sure when that became admirable.

In the same vein, Fox 5 Atlanta reports that a teen with ADHD received an award at a school program in Rockdale this week for "Most likely to not pay attention."

I wouldn't be surprised if this dubious category didn't originate with students, which is all the more reason to exercise caution. (I am not a fan of student-driven awards as they are a minefield for schools. I have a running list of bad student-created awards I've heard about, including "most likely to have four children by the time she is 25.")

The WAGA-TV story illustrates what can go wrong. (This is a brief excerpt. Go to WAGA to see the full piece and the district's response.)

Nicole Edwards said her 14-year-old daughter received the award at a school assembly at Memorial Middle School Tuesday. "I feel like it was very derogatory, I feel like it was humiliating and this was held as an assembly with the school ," said Nicole Edwards. Edwards said when her 8th grader came home with the award, she learned that her daughter was initially voted as "most likely to ask a question that has already been answered" something that she thought was very inappropriate. After seeing "Most likely to not pay attention" written towards the bottom of her daughter's trophy, she became even angrier.