As for me, prizes are nothing. My prize is my work.
–Katharine Hepburn

Today, the Darden faculty will bestow a range of prizes for student performance in last year’s First Year Program. We honor talent. But it behooves us to ask why.

The Darden learning experience is significantly about teamwork. It may seem inconsistent that we distinguish individuals. Anyway, why do high-performance individuals need the accolades? They probably know that they are doing well. As Katharine Hepburn says, the “prize” is really in the satisfaction of one’s work.

Who, then, benefits from prizes? We all do. Giving prizes is one means by which society reaffirms ideals. A school gives prizes for academic performance to remind everyone that learning is the point of the enterprise and that mastery is good. Like mission statements and other expressions of purpose, the granting of prizes helps to align the community. We all benefit from knowing what we are about.

Let us celebrate the prize winners. In so doing, we promote our unity around common values.

Posted by Robert Bruner at 08/29/2007 08:11:44 AM