Thursday, October 02, 2008

Good enough isn't good enough


Parents, educators, friends who care about the world. We have a very important job to do, so listen up.

I'll get to it in just a second, but I'm going to start by saying: I can't take Sarah Palin anymore. And it isn't just because I disagree with her politics, and it isn't just because I find the whole, "Yeah but she's a WOMAN" thing completely insulting to intelligent women everywhere (You mean, you have girl parts? I have girl parts! You've got my vote!).

I can't even take the jokes, and believe me, they're everywhere. Check out Mac's blog, for starters.

It's because she's really, really stupid. And she's the Vice Presidential nominee. THE VICE PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES, PEOPLE. She has been chosen to run for the second-highest office in the free world, and she insists that living close to Russia gives her foreign policy experience.

I couldn't even watch the whole Katie Couric interview, you guys, I couldn't take it. If you missed it, find it on You Tube.

The bigger problem in all this, my friends, is that it puts on display, for the whole world to see, just how little we value intelligence and education in the United States. You could argue that W did this for eight years as well, I suppose. But what we're seeing with Palin is a whole lot of Americans who identify with her, and think it's GREAT that she shows us that "anyone can be President."

NO! No, anyone can NOT be President! This is not okay! We're talking about the highest office in our country, the highest honor in our land, one of the hardest jobs in the world! The person who holds that job should, at a bare minimum, be really, really smart! And that person's second-in-command should be able to keep up.

So you see, my problem isn't with Palin as a politician, so much as it's with the fact that she can't even discuss the economy intelligently with Katie Couric, and yet nearly 50% of the country still think she's smart enough to be a capable vice president.

I'm not arguing with those people. I'm sure there are some who'd love to comment back at me about how Obama's whatever, and that's not what this is about. We'll all vote in November and see what happens.

Here's what it is about: Parents, educators, friends who care about the world, this is a giant red flag. We have a job to do, and we need to act now. To quote Tami Taylor on Friday Night Lights, "It's my job to make sure you don't grow up stupid. It's bad for the world."

Today's kids are growing up with philosophies very different from what I experienced as a child. They're hearing, "everyone is a winner," whereas I always thought that the winners were whoever, you know, actually won. Today, kids get encouragement no matter how they perform; they're somehow entitled to gold stars just for trying. I got encouragement when I tried too, sure, but I got gold stars when I got it right. I grew up with the motto, "Good enough isn't good enough," and knew at a very young age that if I wanted to be successful, it would require a lot of hard work and learning and sacrifice. Today's kids can look at someone like Sarah Palin and think, "If she can do it, I can do it," and skate by in a world that rewards mediocrity.

Again, I say: this is not okay! We need to encourage our children to do better, work harder, be smarter. We need to reward Excellence, not whatever they churn out. Teachers, that means not coddling kids who aren't doing their work--give them bad grades, and teach them so they do better next time. Professors, that means actually teaching and encouraging critical thinking--you can't just read from the text during class and give take home/open-book tests (true story, I actually paid for that class). And, yeah, parents, that'll mean turning off the TV and taking away the cell phone and monitoring their Internet use and checking their work and doing all kinds of things that might piss them off or make them dislike us for a little while. TOO BAD. Suck it up. We're the adults, we have to do it. I know my (future) kids won't like me sometimes. That's okay. I can take it, because I know they'll thank me later. They'll thank you, too, trust me.

It is our job to make sure our children don't grow up stupid. It's bad for the world.


Alison said...

Amen. I hate that people are once again making the presidential race about who they'd like to have a beer with. Who cares if you can hang out with the person!! When is that actually going to happen anyway! I don't care if the person is an ass in real life, just as long as they actually know what they're doing! Why is intelligence such a bad thing now? When did intelligence become something to look down upon and mock and treat as a negative? The president is going to have to deal with situations that none of us would want to have to deal with on a daily basis. They should at least have enough critical thinking and awareness of the world around them to make intelligent choices. Look where the buddy method of voting has gotten us!

Don't even get me started on the entitlement that so many kids feel these days.

Anonymous said...

Dinah, I couldn`t agree more..Well said! I especially like the part about teaching "critical thinking." That`s a little tougher than not accepting "B`s" when you know a kid can make "A`s." As Matti has said, "You taught us to question authority, so don`t be surprised if we don`t agree with you." I`m not and it`s O.K. Intelligence is important in a leader, at a minimum, but combined with good judgement and good values, we have a Winner! You get a gold STAR! Love, Mom

Jenny said...

You are SO, SO right my dear. I've learned more from every time I was second, every job I didn't get, and every red-marked essay than I did from my wins and my successes. Or, rather, they're probably responsible for my successes in the first place.

My grandparents had a comic strip on their fridge when my dad was growing up that showed a kid showing his parents a report card of straight A's and the parents saying "Well, I guess that's good enough for a Zimmerman." It's been a running joke ever since - even an A- wasn't quite "good enough for a Zimmerman." What happened to teaching kids that it's OK to excel? And what happened to demanding excellence from our leaders as well? ACK.

Well said, Dinah!