Another word we are not allowed to say in our house is “idiot” (refer to A Dolt’s House for our own little family etymology on the word “stupid”). At any rate, not saying idiot can be a challenging thing these days; one of my favorite expressions (shared with my better half) is: “These people are idiots.” Still, when we leave for work, our 3½ year old politely reminds us not to say stupid, or hate, or idiot. Consequently, when he is awake and listening to us, we must be a bit creative with our language and have since adopted the sophisticated phrase “These people are animals” instead. This we coined as our own after hearing Ana Lucia (from ABC’s Lost) use it in reference to the Others.
This week’s outrage comes from one of my more recent encounters of the idiot kind in my field, education. The particular case of idiocy is multi-layered; that is, it is internal and external. The external, which I will explain, is an almost boring and common occurrence in education. The internal… well, that is a bit more complicated. The external idiocy can most easily be witnessed in blatant rewards for mediocrity. This, I am most certain, happens in just about every field. A person may lack a particular (and one would think, essential) bit of knowledge or expertise in his or her field. Yet, this person is constantly honored or recognized for being so outstanding. The teachers in the trenches have students like this; some of us may even have colleagues like this. In some musings, I think George W. was this type of student in high school, frustrating his peers because perhaps he always seemed to finish first even if his smarts were not exactly up to par.
When I witness such obvious rewards for mediocrity or blatant disregard to recognize true excellence, I often think: “These people are idiots.” I’ve been working in schools for over 10 years and, regardless of the microcosm within the larger community, these rewards keep coming to people that just aren’t that great. They aren’t bad people or mean people or even sickeningly unqualified. It’s just that there are others out there that really are top notch and get no real recognition… ever. Maybe at their retirement dinner or graduation party a friend or relative will make a suitable comment to acknowledge their genuine excellence. Maybe… but that just isn’t enough for me.
Here is the worst part, the internal idiocy. That’s right. The outrage this week is not directed at the establishment. No, it is directed at me. I am the biggest idiot (I can just hear my son yelling at me for using this word so many times) because I am always shocked and chagrined (like Seinfeld’s Jackie Chiles) when these very common occurrences happen. Sign me up for slowlearningcurve.com… because none of this is new information.
Rage-o-meter: 10 ++