Author’s Opening Statement: From time to time, everyone needs a break from the norm. In this case, a brief detour for the author from geo-political analysis to focus on an issue of immense personal importance – encouraging the very best in all citizens – i.e. driving personal excellence. It starts with collectively embracing a new cultural attitude.
Let me then preface this article by suggesting (requesting) this progressive “title theme” be introduced to the American lexicon tonight and tabled by Presidential Debate Moderator Bob Schieffer, asking the fundamental question – How would the candidates lead the country to stop embracing mediocrity and instead drive excellence in all U.S. citizenry.
Please feel free to contact anyone within two or three degrees of separation of Mr. Schieffer to ensure he does.
The theme provides a mantra aimed at redefining and reinvigorating the American attitude to children’s education and personal development; the drivers of what America can and should be – yet isn’t.
Does one ever ponder why in a country of 300 million people and an effective (optimal) Presidential candidate age pool (if looking at age 45-65) of some 50 to 60 million, why there are never any knockout “oh wow” candidates? And “oh wow” not in terms of superficial charm, charisma, appearance, sound bites, and/or longevity on the planet or public office, but rather as respects a candidate’s (really) brilliant new vision for this country and accompanying “substantive/tangible” ideas to achieve it.
Wouldn’t one automatically think that the greatest nation on earth should produce at least one Presidential candidate offering that which mirrors and reflects that prowess and just knocks everyone socks off? And since it is a two party system (which needs a third), at least one “oh wow” from each camp, if not many more.
Maybe the two Presidential candidates might now get off the superficial to instead dig deep and take the initiative to provide for a truly better America in the future. In fact, dramatically upping the ante by changing the current lowest common denominator societal “It’s OK to be OK” mindset/attitude of the country, to one embracing a more potent and robust, individual excellence driven “It’s Unacceptable Not To Be Great” mantra.
The latter is the only theme that encourages one to achieve their absolute best. And isn’t that what responsible adults have a duty to their children (i.e. this country’s future leaders) and society to provide. And what President’s should seek from all Americans. That is, to constructively guide and drive younger generations to achieve their “full potential”, so the future for the country as a whole is the best it can and will be.
Perhaps the current problem or void stems from an evolved attitude now embodied in a societal culture that talks a “best” game, but really creates, promotes and fosters a “culture of mediocrity”, beginning with embedding that attitude at very young ages.
Consider for example, this manifestation exemplified and encouraged in school “grade compression”, when the scale is simply “either or” (Happy Face or Not), rather than A through F and all distinguishing and differentiating pluses or minuses in between. And with that grade compression, comes “grade inflation” where everyone gets the Happy Face and no one gets the “Frown”.
In effect, what we collectively have is “grade compression” driving “grade inflation” leading to “grade trivialization”; resulting in “academic and individual mediocrity”. Without meaningful grade differentiation, there is no “effort incentive” to do more, and therefore no motivating driver to do better and be your best. The result being the country does not get the optimal best from its key educational systems/institutions and their most important product contribution to the long term future of the U.S. – student Americans. Indeed, the greatest long term asset this country has in ensuring sustainable global competitiveness in the face of rising Commulism.
How many parents challenge the “Happy Face”, or better characterized as the “feel good” (“scholastic?”) grading system?
Based on its rampant proliferation, a good guess would be none. In fact, it is further spreading, if not already firmly entrenched even in higher education, including college and universities where even top tier (top 10) schools now use a “grown up” version of the Happy Face in their freshman grading system under the simple “Pass/Fail (P/F)” system. That materializing in a variety of derivative but similar “mediocrity encouraging” forms, whether it be simple Pass/Fail, Pass/No Record, SAT/UNS (aka SU), Credit/F, and Credit/No Credit. And how many high tuition paying (i.e. money) students ever get F’s, No Record or No Credit?
Note: MIT should be applauded recently for moving away from Pass/No Record to an A,B,C system. It too has seen academic performance increase accordingly.
These institutions have an inherent financial disincentive to enforce the highest possible standard and accordingly “flunk their money (tuition)”, regardless of the size of their respective endowment backstops.