At last the dodo said, “Everybody has won, and all must have prizes.”
“But who is to give the prizes?” Quite a chorus of voices asked.
“Why, she, of course,” said the dodo, pointing to Alice with one finger; and the whole party at once crowded round her, calling out, in a confused way, “Prizes! Prizes!”
While it seems like a lovely message – how wonderful for everyone to have won and to have prizes! – there is a hidden shadow. For there is no winning if all have won, and there is no prize if all have acquired the same thing. In other words, there does not seem to have been a test of excellence here – merely an exercise which seems to have tested people. But, at the end of the day, they will all get the same reward. This message comes to those who are tasked with evaluating the work of others and are trying to choose who has done well. It comes to parents, to teachers and judges.
This message also comes to those who wish to please everyone ad do not wish to fall out of favor. Thus, they will proclaim that everyone has done very well and offer prizes to each and all, to avoid the discomfort of true assessment. It is hard to have to decide, to make a choice and to know to whom the victory belongs. It is challenging to be discerning. We often prefer to be like the dodo, trying to make sure everyone is happy.
Consider the choices you have before you – is it best to reward everyone in the same way, even if some have offered more than others? Is it better to reward those who have excelled, either through effort or talent? Would you refer just to give prizes to all and keep everyone happy? These are your choices at present and it is up to you to decide which way is best.
Trying to keep everyone happy. Treating everyone as equals and rewarding those who have not worked hard. Playing nice, wanting to please. An ability to choose who or what is best for you. Trying to be fair, but avoiding difficult decisions is not fair on yourself. Maintaining illusions, to avoid disappointing others.
~ the Alice Wonderland oracle by Lucy Cavendish