In one of my favorite stories, There’s a Boy in the Girl’s Bathroom, Bradley Chalkers stares at a list of his classmates’ names, each one followed by a row of gold stars ranging from several to none. The space to the right of Bradley’s name is vacant. You can imagine how he feels, right?
Most of us understand the dangers of judging the appearances and abilities of other people against our own. It often leaves a hollow, uncharitable feeling of either resentment or superiority. I do it more than I should. Chances are you struggle with it too. It’s one thing to keep it within the confines of your head. Making it audible is another.
Worse, however, than contrasting your attributes to those of another is comparing one child to another…especially in front of the whole class. Posting grades and other performance-based outcomes in full view is not only tacky, it kills community. Why go out of your way to create an opportunity for some to gloat while others are left feeling like day-old tuna.
Then there’s the ultimate: Comparing the behavior of one student to one or more members of the class. This takes things to an even deeper, more disturbing level, typically ending in the embarrassment of the highlighted child. It might give you the immediate results you desire, but not without a price tag.
Comparison isn’t always a bad thing, especially when it comes to shopping. It does have its place, just not in your classroom.
Hope this helps,