During this “spring” (quotes intentional) break, an interesting piece appeared in the New York Times with a title that pretty much speaks for itself: “Kids Like Me Deserve Something Special.” – The Risks of Overvaluing Our Young. If you didn’t see this article by K.J. Dell’Antonia, here’s the link:
First, I’m encouraged by the multitude of like-minded articles that have been appearing lately in the media. Hopefully, there’s a national attitudinal sea change in the offing.
Second, I can’t help but trace a lot of this stuff back to my own school days — nearly a half-century ago (Yeah, I know… Yikes!) — when my middle school teachers would tell my parents during the many (!) student/teacher conferences I experienced during my pre- and early teens, “Malcolm’s a (very) bright kid… He just doesn’t apply himself.”
Without going on a rant over why that’s the most useless thing that can be said to a kid, let’s just say that it’s a shoe-in for 1st ballot induction in the Hollow Phrase Hall of Fame.
I know I always resented this characterization because I doubted that my teachers really believed it was true. Although I could not have articulated this at that age, I saw it as mere adult-speak, a polite way to serve the dual purpose of expressing concern while placating my parents. I mean, I never ever heard of anyone being told, “Johnny may not be very bright, but you should be proud of how hard he works.”
When you get right down to it, however bright you are (or are not) is however bright you are (or are not). All that really matters is how much you do with whatever you’ve got. In any case, although it’s been 50 years — Did I mention “Yikes!”? — it’s a pretty short jump from that 1966 teacher conference to this NY Times piece.
Onward, Malcolm Gauld