Wednesday, June 6, 2012

Incredible mediocrity

I recently watched the movie "The Incredibles" and I forgot how great it was!  I especially love that we got a movie that appeals to both boys and girls.  But aside from being entertaining it had a great message about families sticking together and a few other things jumped out at me too.  The concept that I couldn't stop thinking about was about celebrating mediocrity.
Mediocre is defined as: "of only ordinary or moderate quality; neither good nor bad; barely adequate"
Here's the scene that started me thinking:
Helen: I can't believe you don't want to go to your own son's graduation. 
Bob: It's not a graduation. He is moving from the 4th grade to the 5th grade. 
Helen: It's a ceremony! 
Bob: It's psychotic! They keep creating new ways to celebrate mediocrity, but if someone is genuinely exceptional...

Then I heard a broadcast on FamilyTalk radio (highly recommend) where the guest mentioned the same thing.  (I can't remember which broadcast it was, maybe John Rosemond.)  He said that at the end of a school year, the students receive a certificate of excellent and the parents receive a bumper sticker even if the kids didn't earn it.  Wouldn't want anyone to feel bad or left out.

I love this article where the author states that celebrating mediocrity discourages work ethic, promotes the concept that everything should be fair in life, and creates a sense of entitlement.  I highly recommend reading that article.  I loved the points he brought up because this "everyone gets an award" system doesn't sit well with me.  This whole concept fascinates me though!  It makes me sad that we refrain from rewarding the kid who excels in fear of making the kids who struggle feel bad.  What is this doing to our children??

Again going back to The Incredibles and something the villain said:
Syndrome to Mr. Incredible (who he wanted to destroy): "I'll give them the most spectacular heroics anyone's ever seen. And when I'm old and I've had my fun, I'll sell my inventions so that everyone can be superheroes. Everyone can be super. And when everyone's super, no one will be." [evil laughter]

Isn't this so sad?  This is in effect what rewarding mediocrity really does.  Why work hard if minimal work is rewarded?  Why push yourself to EARN that pat on the back and esteem from teachers?

Again, back to The Incredibles... check out this conversation:
Helen: Dash... this is the third time this year you've been sent to the office. We need to find a better outlet. A more... constructive outlet. 
Dash: Maybe I could, if you'd let me go out for sports. 
Helen: Honey, you know why we can't do that. 
Dash: But I promise I'll slow up. I'll only be the best by a tiny bit. 
Helen: Dashiell Robert Parr, you are an incredibly competitive boy, and a bit of a show-off. The last thing you need is temptation. 
Dash: You always say 'Do your best', but you don't really mean it. Why can't I do the best that I can do? 
Helen: Right now, honey, the world just wants us to fit in, and to fit in, we gotta be like everyone else. 
Dash: But Dad always said our powers were nothing to be ashamed of, our powers made us special. 
Helen: Everyone's special, Dash. 
Dash: [muttering] Which is another way of saying no one is. 

So this was all rolling around in my mind and I kid you not, I saw a bumper sticker that read: "Shut up about your perfect kid.  The movement of imperfection".  Really?  I am all about celebrating children with disabilities and coming alongside them to encourage them and lift them up, but "shut up" is pretty strong and negative language towards kids who are seemingly "perfect".  Not sure really what a perfect child looks like because I know mine aren't.  But in terms of school, I think that the perfect child does his/her work and gets good grades.  And if that's the case, that child should be praised and encouraged to keep on going!  They should be told how proud they make their parents.  Otherwise they might give up.

I really had to get this down and blog about it.  I think that as we raise our kids we need to really celebrate what they are legitimately good at and help guide and grow them in that area.  I don't think we should dumb them down like Helen wanted to do with Dash.  It deflates them and we should set the bar high so our kids can become better than us.  Or at least give them the potential to be super.


Elise said...

LOVED reading your thoughts, Mary! The Incredibles is definitely one of our family's most favorite movies. (And no, we didn't name our Violet AFTER their daughter, but I will say her character was one of several things influencing our decision in a positive way, LOL!) Great movie, lots of great scenes and lessons in there.

And I'm with ya on the mediocrity thing. I'm constantly baffled by the notion that we "need" equality in everything or else we damage the psyche of our children beyond repair. Whatever they want to do, however they want to live, it's all okay, and if you believe any differently, you're labeled "intolerant" (among other things). But 1 Corinthians 10:23 says, "All things are legitimate [permissible—and we are free to do anything we please], but not all things are helpful (expedient, profitable, and wholesome). All things are legitimate, but not all things are constructive [to character] and edifying [to spiritual life]." The love we feel for our kids should never change, no matter what choices they make. But we do them a disservice if we don't teach them that there are some choices that are better than others, like it or not.

Amy said...

Whoa, that whole post just made my head explode! lol Seriously though, good thoughts! I enjoyed the read......while fighting through contractions.......which may or may not be labor........we shall see.......