REALITY: Society at a Crossroads

Let me take a break from New Media video games for a moment to have a turn at something that’s pushed MY buttons instead.

Just read an article about a student who is possibly facing disciplinary action due to an incident that involved his calling a woman a name–not a racial epithet, just a not-very-nice name–when she accused him of talking about her.  While the incident took place on campus, it amazes me that the administration would even get involved.  More so, it amazes me that anyone would even report it.

While I have genuine sympathy with the student, what overrides my total support is not only that I do not know the full story (action pending) and the fact that if this student is your typically liberal-minded college student, he/she placed themself in this position by their very principles and beliefs that no one has the right to verbally harm another–meaning, making it a violation of law to do so. 

While I agree that no one should, I can’t agree that one doesn’t have the right to do so.  In my own belief in individual freedom, being wrong, being rude, hell, even being a jackass is included.  There is still a damn good law about freedom of speech in effect, and name-calling isn’t slander after all.

Then comes this article in the November issue of Reader’s Digest (yeah, I know, Reader’s Digest) about a school in Nashville that decided to stop announcing their honor roll student list because some parents "were very concerned that…(children) would feel ashamed or discouraged or left out because they weren’t honored."

The article, by Michael Crowley is aptly titled, "A" is for Average, Not achievement or accomplishment or All American.  Not anymore.  He goes on to say that while "honored students rightfully feel pride, and their example motivates other students to work harder…some people think that for every honor student, there’s a kid with bruised feelings.  And protecting the low feelings of a student is more important than celebrating another’s high accomplishments."

This b.s. has been brewing for a while now, ever since we somehow became a "feel good" society rather than an intelligent one.  I can’t speak for anyone else, but if the day comes when I need brain surgery, I’d really want the best, the top, the most dexterous, intelligent, top-of-the-class brain surgeon to do it.  And I’d like to make sure who I chose didn’t just barely graduate after several tries but has the self-confidence (if not the skill) of a winner.

Why don’t we want to celebrate and honor intelligence any more?  Why are feelings more important?  In some instances, I realize that they are (please do jump into the river to save me without thinking about the fact of whether it’s wise or not).  But in the area of education in particular, knowledge–as evidenced in some form of scoring or meeting of set standards, should be perceived as achieving the goal–the learning of the material studied.  Should I be graded on how well I know Statistics or the fact that they don’t make me happy?

One of the best statements by Mr. Crowley in his article is this:  "No more honor rolls, valedictorians, letter grades–how long before schools start to ban simple games like tag?"

I love it.  And, I think it’s leading to the very direction my own thoughts take.  I say, get rid of school sports.  The losing team, the entire student body, the parents, faculty, alumni, jeepers, even the whole town sometimes feels bad when a game is lost.  No more football, basketball, hockey, etc., I say; make a whole lotta people not feel bad about themselves.

But I doubt that this would fly because alas, I think that sports takes precedence over intelligence as well.

(Note:  It has always intrigued me how boxing in particular can be allowed as a legitimate paid for, enjoyed by, validated sport while punching a guy in the nose for calling your mama a whore is illegal.)

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1 Response to REALITY: Society at a Crossroads

  1. Traci says:

    What an astute, clearly argued position. As an educator today, I am constantly battling the misconception of my students that A is for adequate. If they fulfill the minimum requirements of an assignment, they expect (some demand) the maximum possible score. I am always reiterating my point that A means excellence, extra effort, the very best. And as to applying that pespective to sports, I, too, am at a loss. Why is it not okay to honor overachieving scholars for fear of damaging the self-esteem of those less gifted, but it’s fine and dandy to hold pep rallies to honor student athletes when other students did not make the cut? Our society baffles me at times.

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