Thursday, January 21, 2010

Who's really average anyway?

So I'm going to have to go on a little bit of a rant here, but it's something I have felt strongly about for a very long time, and I think- or hope- that it's worth reading and considering.

We have destroyed the work ethic of America. That is a pretty bold statement, but hear me out. At some point or another, we got on this average kick. If everyone is the same, then no one's feelings are hurt. Maybe this was related to the big child psychology wave that went through, I don't know. But we started being afraid of singling anyone out in a positive light because, heaven forbid it should make someone else feel bad about themselves. We gave the exact same trophies to everyone who participated in the soccer tournament, no matter who worked hard to come out on top. We gave everyone on the team the same MVP ribbon for that great basketball game even though the next Michael Jordan came out of his shell and scored half the winning points. On a schooling level, we created gifted programs for kids who excelled above the general standard of work and tested at above average IQ's, and then discretely shoved them in a room at the end of a hallway once a month to give them critical thinking exercises and personality tests. We were afraid that if we gave them different work, challenged them at their level, others would notice and be discouraged by their own. Our learning systems were created for the average without flexibility to fit the larger majority of exceptions, on both sides of the spectrum. Then we inspired absolutely no one to reach their full potential by making it a goal for everyone to appear on the same level and calling it a good thing. Nobody is going to excel at everything, we have to accept that there will be categories of life that other people will be better at. But everyone has an aptitude for something that they can develop and succeed at. If we teach kids from a young age that the person who works the hardest and holds themselves to the highest standard will get all the same benefits (or lack there of) as the person who is lazy and doesn't care about accomplishing anything, what kind of message is that sending them? I know there's the argument that you should do things for yourself, and personal satisfaction and accomplishment is a reward in itself, but not everyone is psychologically the same. And some people, that could otherwise reach the highest of highs, cannot do so without the recognition by their peers. It is sad that we squelch the people with the most capacity and talent in the programs and institutions we create specifically to build those capabilities, whether they are athletic or academic or otherwise. Skill, talent, and intelligence are never traits that should be punished, even in indirect ways. They should be nurtured and supported and encouraged so that the world is full of people who are the very best possible versions of themselves, people who have been allowed to reach the greatest of their abilities.



  1. hell yes.
    i completely agree with everything that you just stated. and might i add, it was incredibly well written. GO YOU!


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