Sunday, May 08, 2005

Equal Opportunities

Half way through the current school year, the Amity public school system moved the 9th grade up from the junior to the senior high school. In order to adjust the freshmen to their new climate, the senior high provided “link crews” – pairs of Amity students who would speak to the freshmen about the experience awaiting them, and give them various ‘transition’ games to play and activities to do.

My brother (a freshman, as it turns out) rummaged through his backpack the other day and found a little packet from his “link crew” experience earlier this year. It’s an assignment: each freshman will write a letter to himself to be opened on graduation (“Look at the blank sheet of paper in front of you now. That sheet is like your life…”). The second page of this packet is a handy-dandy example letter, which includes lines like “I’ll bet I’m still friends with Corey” and “I swear that I will at least try to go to the prom with J.G.” The freshmen apparently spent about an hour preparing for and writing this letter.

After the letter writing was done (a pointless, though not a damaging assignment) the link-crews went on to discuss a statement that had been written on the board: “You’re not better than anyone, but no one is better than you.”

How about that! We’re all the same (and we’re all special, too). We’re all equal – because, after all, they say we are.

Of course, just saying that you’re not better than anybody and no one’s better than you doesn’t make it so. It doesn’t even make anyone believe it. Nobody in this school, not the people writing this stuff on the board, not the roomfuls of freshmen reading it – not even the administrators who thought this line up in the first place – could possibly believe it. And yet, someone seems to think that this is important enough to “teach.”

What do they mean when they say that you’re not “better” than anybody else? They can’t possibly mean that we’re all of equal intelligence, or there would be no point in having honors-level classes. They can’t possibly mean that we’re all equally good at sports, or there wouldn’t be a school record in sprinting. Do we all have the same writing skills? The same musical talent? Perhaps they mean that if you were to award points for relative goodness in each field, everyone would have the same number of points, total (I’ve seen this sort of thing suggested in a psychology text book). But this is silly, unless you claim that someone who has been awarded high points for hamburger-flipping skill is really of the same caliber as a student who wins the regional computer-programming championships.

In the final analysis, the word “better” as used by our school in this exercise has no meaning. It’s just another one of the ways our school likes to distribute liberal amounts of feel-good attitude. The thing is, the only way this feel-good thing works is if you don’t think about it. You have to keep you brain switched off, because, if you try to find the meaning (as no doubt many freshmen did) you will realize that there is none to be found.

So what does the school really want? Do they want us to think we’re all equal or do they want us to think?


At 12:10 PM, Blogger Alec Brandon said...

So just how can you justify that the United States opening relations with China was a bad thing?

I have been very patient.

-Mr. Alec

At 6:37 PM, Blogger R said...

Dan -

I have to agree with you here. However, I think that the point that the link crew was trying to get across - I, by the way, as a link crew 'leader', did not discuss that quotation (I never saw it in the first place) - was simply not to come in with an arrogant attitude thinking you're better than other people...the usual high school cliches, which are, unfortunately, a reality. Think about the jocks who they're so great and that they're better than the nerds just because they can throw a football. Anyway, I think it's a good message...and I think you bring up a good point, but I don't believe that that's what the link crew was trying to say, and I'd be surprised if a large number of freshmen construed the quotation the way you made it out to be.

At 9:37 PM, Blogger Doug said...

At 9:22 AM, Blogger SinaMoravej said...

that was a really random and pointless post. no offense

At 1:14 PM, Blogger Beowulf, King of the Geats said...

It's quite simple really. I am infinitely better than anyone else on this planet. Any comparable person would only have a finite amount of goodness. No matter how large that goodness, as a percentage of my goodness, it is zero. Therefore, everyone is equally as good as one another when compared to me. The conclusion is simple: They're all a bunch of no good kids!

At 8:23 PM, Blogger Alec Brandon said...

Oh and by the way, Dan, your unwillingness to discuss any of the ideas that you put forth is deeply troubling. Many would take it as an unwillingness to actually acknowledge the numerous logical and factual holes that litter your political and social views. Other would think that you simply do not know what you are talking about, considering how frequently you have been shown to be wrong. Some may even think that it is an attempt to get me to go away.

In my opinion, I would say all of them are correct. Though I won't go away. I argue for a living. Debate is my livelihood. So ignore me, but I will keep proving you wrong, and having a great time doing it. If you want to defend you warped perceptions feel free to.

-Mr. Alec

PS And I know that you are not too busy to respond, I went to Amity, I know what Senior year is like.

At 10:56 AM, Blogger Alec Brandon said...

In the fifth of eight debates Abraham Lincoln crucified Stephen Douglas on his stance on slavery. To put it bluntly, Lincoln provides the state of Illinois with a heartfelt approach to abolition of slavery, especially when compared with Douglas' slimy political approach, meant purely to appeal to voters...

Oh wait, no one cares.

-Mr. Alec

At 2:57 PM, Blogger Alec Brandon said...

Oh man, this is hilarious.

-Mr. Alec

At 4:59 PM, Blogger Commander Mike said...

Is it safe to assume that editing the posts of forum members you dislike, disagree with, or you just have a personal problem with for any reason whatsoever (such as being able to dish it out but not take it in return), is now standard policy here?

Or is making posts about "China", or else posts about being on the "anti-China bandwagon" what now qualifies as useful and interesting content worth discussing on this forum?

Hell, I would not post so much here if there were more people trying to be funny and have a good time. Instead, we have a few people who well just were not born creative or interesting at all (some of them may be intelligent in a few areas of life, but generally mediocre in every other department) and who are jealous and envious of anyone capable of being a rabblerouser every now and then.

I mean, I could just leave (I might as well if the content of my posts is going to be edited by irresponsible bloggers) and maybe post at other forums if that is something I choose to do with my spare time, but seriously would this place be better if everyone got along for "getting along's sake Rodney King style" and never discussed anything interesting or ever had an opinion that held water or else ever made a statement that was controversial at all?

If that is the kind of blog you envision then I have a new logo for this forum. Unfortunately I cannot post it so you will have to imagiane it. It's really funny.

At 10:00 PM, Blogger Clayton said...

Your post brought to mind Steve Salerno's National Review article on the side effects of empowerment, entitled Overdosing on Oprah. Good article.


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