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.
Getting back to the Occupy kids, they weren’t the sad-story, bad home life students who may or may not have had learning disabilities. They were miscreants who should have been working somewhere (school or a job) but opted to camp out and demand free education, all the while finding time for some drugs and the occasional sexual assault.
When you see an angry mob smashing windows at a G20 meeting they aren’t a bunch of struggling inner city kids railing against injustice. They are the slackers whose class warfare seeds have been fertilized with resentment by college professors and are acting out because they feel they deserve something.
These kids respond emotionally because it is all they know how to do after having their emotions catered to throughout their school years. The first time something doesn’t go right in adulthood, they don’t have a skill set to deal with it.
Much to the chagrin of the progressives, it is still a world full of bosses who care not a whit when your precious feelings are hurt when you get fired for sucking at your job. Your “concerns” about the “exclusive nature” of better salaries, bigger houses and nicer cars will not be considered.
It is time to wrest the American public education system away from the Johnny Appleseeds of progressivism and get back to rewarding hard work in school whether it be by the gifted students or the ones who struggle just to get a C. When we ignore the former, it undermines hard work (and the very idea of it) done by anyone and therefore does a great disservice to the latter.
Think of all the money we’ll save on all of those fourth through 500th-place trophies we won’t have to give out anymore.