On the brink of catastrophic mediocrity it is time to consider what course of events brought us here. We (US populace) are mired in uninspired arts,
laughable public servants from both sets of parties, and a seeming inability to notice. How did we get here? What are the implications? And can we go
Greetings again my fine cohorts in the attempt to deny that wretched foe, ignorance. It has been far too long since last I poised digits over
keyboard in your fine company. Not for lack of want, for the thought of contributing has long been with me. But for the need for something to say that
is worthy of your fine company. I am embroiled in a daily struggle with my own personal battle against the foe, and in that struggle, a number of
thoughts have emerged that I find eager to share. I hope at least a small number of you find the time to read and comment.
I present that mediocrity is the brother of ignorance, a foe of equal importance that must be given its due attention. For we are awash in that vile
filth that stains our thoughts with a putrid white wash of sameness. Our society has embraced the average, vilified the normal, applauded the capable,
and congratulated the least terrible. And for that, we are in peril.
How did this come to pass? Through what excruciating sequence of events have we suddenly looked upon ourselves and become satisfied with the mediocre?
A small hint was revealed some weeks ago in the fumbling words of one we rarely look to for wisdom, Prince Charles. The awkward future king of England
caused a brief international uproar
when he said, "Why do they all seem to
think they are qualified to do things far beyond their technical capabilities? This is to do with the learning culture in schools as a consequence of
a child-centered system which admits no failure." While his presentation and style are certainly lacking, one might say, less than average, there are
truths to be found.
Many decades ago, the U.S. education system began a systematic path which has lead to ruin. The path to mediocrity is that of "standardized testing"
and the concern for a student's self-esteem at the peril of learning known as child-centered learning. Once believed the inspired epiphany of learned
scholars of educational arts, this direction is that upon which our ruin is laid before us.
Standardized uncompromising exams are critically important for our current and future generations. What is that? You, my kind reader, had expected
something far more progressive from your friend? Progressive techniques have brought us mediocrity, failure will bring us back to an inspired culture.
For as anyone with a moderate degree of life experience can share, there is no finer tutor than failure. The prospect of failing important
responsibilities causes one to experience all manner of stress, doubt, fear, and anxiety. Actually failing is harsh and sometimes irrevocably so. But
fail we must, for from our failures come our successes. Give me difficult standardized tests for which failing students should be told they have
'failed', not 'under performed'. And in the end, for you my kind reader, a progressive thought -- there is no greater reward for one's self-esteem
than the emergence from failure.
But wait, hadn't I proposed that standardized testing was a bane to education? I appologize, this was not an attempt to befuddle, but an effort to
illustrate where the strategy failed. For now, my friends, we come to society's failure from which it must learn, and learn quickly. Tests are for
students, not for schools. The culture of judging an educational system based on the successes of its students has resulted in curriculum designed to
satisfy the bell curve of the tests, not the needs of the students. We now have a system in which the effectiveness of individual schools and the
educators within are determined by the average scores of their students. When students are prepared for systematic average scores, they memorize, not
But you would ask this poor writer why this is so critical? Why is our peril tied to this? Now that the output of our education system is normalized,
and mediocrity the standard, we are unable to know what is great. Quality becomes good enough. Superior is little more than adequate. And control of
our minds becomes like a simple manipulation of a switch.
(end of part one)
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