Tuesday, March 26, 2013
Quickly! Hide the achievers!
BY G. Hugh Bodell
I recently happened on an article that was so absurd I was forced to seek corroborating sources to assure myself it wasn't some sort of a scam.
The headline read, “Massachusetts Principal Cancels Honors Assembly, Too ‘Devastating’ to Non-Honors Students”.
The essence of the decision by this ‘Progressive/Enlightened Teacher of Children’ David Fabrizio, is that the shining of a spotlight on effort, excellence and achievement will make the not so excellent and the out-and-out losers feel ‘devastated’.
The immediate reward for the winners in Mr. Fabrizio’s school, an Ipswich, Massachusetts, middle-school, is recognition in public, the long term reward for these overachievers is a higher possibility of success in the career of their choice. But Mr. Fabrizio is apparently a proponent of ‘guaranteed equal outcome’, a philosophy that has proven to be a failure of epoch proportions for thousands of years. His answer, since he cannot dictate mediocrity to those youngsters inclined to overachieve, is ‘Hide the Achievers’.
Principal Fabrizio’s absurd solution to an equally absurd philosophy is extremely annoying to me, but worse than that it is a formula for sending the United States on a path followed most recently by the Soviet Union, a textbook study of the failure of forced equal results.
Sometime in the late 1980’s a group of sociologists convinced parents, teachers and coaches that telling kids that they lost a competition was bad for their little psyches and if they thought the purpose of competition was to win they would probably grow up to be disturbed, serial killer adults.
Thus was born the philosophy, “Everybody Gets A Trophy – Winner Or Loser!”
Well in the 1980s, that new stratagem of removing the competition from competitive endeavors was limited to the sports of the very young, generally under 12 years old. Everybody in kindergarten through eighth grade went home smiling after a game of baseball or soccer, they were all friends and it didn’t matter that the score was 86 to zero, they all did their best and nobody was any better than anyone else.
Thus began a slippery slope!
In the 1990s, these happy-go-lucky souls went on to high school, college and the workforce, merrily bringing their “Competition is evil” philosophy with them. If a high school coach or a college professor even inferred that Mary was better than Johnny at anything from Badminton to Biology they were chastised and accused of creating strife and stress in the poor children.
Thus in the 1990s, the middle and higher institutions of both learning and competition reinforced the absurd practice of equal rewards for success or failure.
We find ourselves now in the 21st century and the practice has worked its way up to the boardrooms of industry and the halls of government.
What began as a kindness to five-year-old Barbara, who kept tripping over the soccer ball but received equal praise and reward as five-year-old Karen, who kicked 9 goals, has evolved into the mantra of all losers.
Let’s take a moment to examine the results of this misguided practice “Everybody gets a trophy – winner or loser”, as it relates to industry.
There is currently a mini-industry developing in advising companies on how to deal with a population of twenty to forty year olds who look aghast when you tell them they screwed up and either leave the company or call their mommies to have them yell at the boss.
The boss and the company, in an effort to avoid the exodus of a generation of new (albeit incompetent) employees attend sessions with consultants. There, they learn how they should not offend a dumb ass that put the original in the copy machine wrong side down and made 300 copies of blank paper, by telling him/her that they are dumb asses. No, they should reward their inadequate effort by telling them “Good boy/girl, you’re a winner, I’ll just make the copies myself!”
Well, the managers and executives, for self preservation, bought into the absurd concept, as did the teachers and the coaches, and now we are seeing the inevitable outcome.
Our businesses cannot compete in their own country with foreign entities doing business here.
Foreign corporations will not buy our failed or failing businesses if they must keep operations within the borders of the United States, less they be compelled to hire from the pool of labor that can do very little but think of themselves otherwise (Most recent, Fisker Auto).
Competition and the steps that must be taken to win that competition have become anathema to the attitudes and tactics of the majority of our twenty to forty year old workforce.
Twenty years after the first naïve idealist postulated, “Telling a kid who can’t catch that he/she should find a sport or pastime other than baseball, is setting the stage for his/her life as a disturbed, serial killer adult” what do we find?
The corporate behemoths are shouting, “It’s not about building better more appropriate products cheaper than our competition, it’s about participating in the industry and keeping employees working.
“We’re good guys. We’re doing our best, we’re in the game, but we just can’t compete with those other guys and make any money. Does that mean we shouldn’t be in the game? No, it surely doesn’t! So if we cannot compete, you, the American people, will have to give us a trophy even when we lose, you will have to bail us out!
“That trophy should be covering our company’s loss now and every quarter ...forever!"
Think about it, isn’t that what the various bailouts and government loans are, just an extension of the erred philosophy that “Everybody gets a trophy – winner or loser!”
So Principal Fabrizio, take a few days and step outside your protected world of the teacher union negotiated cradle to grave security at the taxpayer’s expense. Try and comprehend what skill set these children, placed in your care, will have to develop to not only excel in the future but to even survive.
Place a sign on your school:
Don’t Be A Loser
Come to Ipswich Middle School
Excel and be a Winner
And we’ll honor youG. Hugh Bodell is a freelance writer and a native New Yorker who is knowledgeable on many subjects but expert on none...well, maybe a few. Feel free to visit him at http://www.ghughbodell.com