Tuesday, June 19, 2012

A Thank-you Note to Fragrant Hills

An e-mail to Younger Daughter's 2nd-grade teacher (with a copy to the Principal):

Ms. Teacher -- just a note to say thank you for a wonderful year.  Back in September, we were worried stiff that YD would have behavior problems again.  We couldn't have been more relieved and surprised at the way things turned out.  She learned a lot, enjoyed school, and made friends.  I'm still not entirely sure how it happened!  So, thank you for all your efforts. 


FedUpMom & Sainted Husband & (of course!) Younger Daughter

Wednesday, June 6, 2012

"You're Not Special"

Making the rounds today, a commencement address: Wellesley High grads told: "You're Not Special", from a high school English teacher, David McCullough.
Contrary to what your soccer trophy suggests, your glowing seventh grade report card, despite every assurance of a certain corpulent purple dinosaur, that nice Mister Rogers and your batty Aunt Sylvia, no matter how often your maternal caped crusader has swooped in to save you… you’re nothing special.
Yes, you’ve been pampered, cosseted, doted upon, helmeted, bubble-wrapped. Yes, capable adults with other things to do have held you, kissed you, fed you, wiped your mouth, wiped your bottom, trained you, taught you, tutored you, coached you, listened to you, counseled you, encouraged you, consoled you and encouraged you again. You’ve been nudged, cajoled, wheedled and implored. You’ve been feted and fawned over and called sweetie pie. Yes, you have.
But do not get the idea you’re anything special. Because you’re not.
The "middle class kids are spoiled by everyone telling them they're special" meme, while popular, is so false it's just obnoxious. Yes, Barney exists, and middle-class parents try to encourage their kids whenever possible ("good job!"). But all of our efforts are totally negated by our kids' school experience, as this teacher should know better than anyone. Middle-class kids today are utterly stressed out by school, from pointless homework that eats what we used to call "free time", to the jacked-up competition for college placement.

What a lousy way to begin adult life, collecting rejections from colleges. Of course, collecting rejections from employers is no better.

McCullough goes on to offer completely generic American-dream advice, which you can also hear from Barney:

I urge you to do whatever you do for no reason other than you love it and believe in its importance. Don’t bother with work you don’t believe in ... Dream big. Work hard. Think for yourself.
The current crop of middle-class high-school seniors, after years of overwork and stress, is facing a ruined global economy and an uncertain future. They deserve much better than to be talked down to by pompous windbags like this one.