I went to school in a glorious time eons ago, when nuns roamed the earth freely, populating mostly poor schools and managing to churn out generation after generation of kids who knew stuff. The good sisters are long gone, replaced mostly by well-intentioned fans of parochial education but who lack the implied power of The Almighty behind them to urge the kiddies along.
The nuns were always very attentive to many details during school hours — it was impossible to put anything over on them — but there was one thing they ignored completely: my self esteem.
Contrast that with modern American education, where the goal seems to be to make sure the underachievers never, ever feel bad about themselves.
That East Greenwich, Rhode Island middle school went on with its honors assembly, though later in the evening, but this statement from the administration sums up the attitude perfectly:
“Members of the school community have long expressed concerns related to the exclusive nature of Honors Night.”
Translation: the slackers are annoyed that the kids who work hard are getting recognized.
I was taken to task on Twitter for using the word “slackers” while discussing this in a piece I wrote elsewhere. The usual reasons I shouldn’t be harsh were given: there are kids who truly struggle with learning, there are extenuating circumstances at home that interfere with learning, etc.
Yeah, but there are also a lot of slackers out there. A LOT. This over-attentiveness to those who struggle, combined with our culture’s pervasive disdain for individual achievement, gives the slackers a free pass in the world. You get kids who expect to be treated the same as those who struggle with the aforementioned extenuating circumstances or take on added workloads.
You get Occupy.
I’ll wager that most of the resentment of overachievers comes from people who know they are underachieving, not from those who know they are struggling. Once we began our obsession with participation trophies the underachievers got to feel better about themselves, their efforts were rewarded while the accomplishments of the overachievers were somewhat diluted.
I don’t think it’s overreacting to worry about this. The insidious attack on doing well plants the seed that blossoms into full blown class warfare as these kids get older. That’s the progressive plan, of course, and the progressives long ago hijacked American education. (Plug: you can read my expanded, sometimes humorous, thoughts on that in my e-book, Don’t Let The Hippies Shower). You make them get used to getting something for just showing up when they’re kids and you have just minted a generation who will vote for progressive politicians who promise to give them freebies when they’re adults.
Achievement is now being dismissed as privilege, a notion my good friend Kurt Schlichter gleefully destroyed in a conversation with Tucker Carlson last week. The ones actually asserting privilege are the slackers, smugly expecting to be rewarded and share in the work of others just … because. The notion that large numbers of people in the United States feel this way would have been laughed off a mere twenty years ago.