Friday, August 10, 2007

bad news: you’re fine

One of my jobs is to read and edit doctoral dissertations before the candidates complete their programs. In particular, I read a lot of doctoral studies by people pursuing Ed.D. degrees — Doctor of Education — and a lot of those studies focus on helping kids with learning disabilities do better in school.

That’s great and all, but I can’t help noticing that nobody seems to be looking for ways to help kids at the other end of the spectrum. No one is interested in what gains could be made by extra-smart kids given extra accommodation and individualized learning programs that teach them at their own pace. ’Cuz let’s be honest now, who really cares about people who are doing OK — or, god forbid, doing great?

Seriously, I’d like to know. Not the teachers I grew up with. Not my ex, who dodged stability as if it was jury duty. Not doctors, whose livelihood depends on people being unwell. Not lawyers or cops or armies, whose raison d’etre is people behaving badly. Not Oprah or Dr. Phil or the rest of the self-help industry. Not religious leaders who bank on sin, nor mechanics who only work when your car doesn’t.

Think about celebrity, too. Who gets rewarded with public attention: train wrecks like Paris Hilton or even-keeled people like . . . well, I can’t name any. And who gets mentioned first in family gossip — crazy cousin Harold and his latest brush with the law or the aunt who’s healthy and secure?

Right. “Messed up” trumps “OK” or “great” every time. We aim a lot of effort at making people OK, but if they achieve that goal, they fall off the radar. The message is clear: You can be OK, or you can be worthy of attention, but you can’t have both. No drama? No coverage.

That’s my bit of drama for the day. So look at me! Look!



  • >>>who really cares about people who are doing OK — or, god forbid, doing great?

    Um... my husband (teacher of gifted & talented kids)

    By Blogger ethelred, at 10:33 AM  

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