In Praise of: Praise
There is a suggestion, in some circles, that too much praise can have a detrimental affect on the recipient.
Although I could not, totally, disagree, I would have to ask ‘how much praise is too much praise?
I only ask, because, by the time I was 11years of age I had received two memorable pieces of praise that, I think, have sustained me through-out my life.
Recently, it was suggested to me that lots of children of my generation, (I was born in 1946), will have a similar copy of the certificate featured.
It had never dawned on me that this might have been the case, because I don’t remember any other child, where I lived, winning one of these.
As the certificate suggests, I lived in a Nazareth House orphanage in Hammersmith, London, England. I was 9years and ten months of age at the time of the certificate’s date.
I can still remember writing the essay. The challenge was to write about how cocoa had come from the plantation, to the shop, as chocolate.
I think that is when I discovered books, and developed a love, or, as some who know me might suggest, an addiction to books.
I can still picture myself using one of those small step ladders to reach a book to help me find the information to do as well as I did. I mean, you might say it was only a ‘Second’ prize, but, just imagine all the schools we must have been in competition with.
We were taught by nuns, on the prmesises, and it wasn’t always a happy place to be. Winning something like this must have brought some joy to the place, as well a box of chocolates to be shared out.
In this first instance of ‘praise’ it was implicit in the wording on the certificate,that I had reached a standard of writing that was praiseworthy of a 2nd prize.
My second piece of praise came from the Headmaster of the first school I went to in Rossendale, in Lancashire when I was 11 years of age, in 1957.
I had travelled from London to Manchester, in a mini-bus, with at least 2 other ‘black’ girls, when Hammersmith was closing as a childrens’ home. I can now, with some certainty, suggest that lots of our white companions were shipped off to Australia, because Margaret Humphries’ ‘Empty Cradles’ has a photograph of a group leaving Hammersmith for Australia in 1956, when it had a ‘whites only’ policy, and Britain was helping with population numbers.
What a stroke of luck that was, certainly for me, and the life I’ve had.
When my new foster mother, Mrs Payne , took me to my new school, to introduce me to the Headmaster, he chatted to her, then he turned his attention to me and asked me a question, which I must have answered. He immediately turned back to her and said: ‘Doesn’t she speak beautifully? I remember thinking what a lovely thing that was to say about a child’s speech. I don’t think I ever looked back after that. I spoke ‘beautifully’, what else was there to worry about?
My advice would be to never fail to give praise when you think it is deserved.
I think Abraham Maslow would have likened it to a ‘peak experience’; that feeling you get when that inner light glows, warmly.
My theory is that there is something, or someone, you will come across everyday that will deserve your praise, if you look for it. My intention is to record and share those moments that I experience, in the hope that I will not be the only ‘Contented 46er’ out there.
Take care, and ‘Praise’ ‘Praise’ ‘Praise’.