Change

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Turning Over New Leaf

Wednesday, February 16, 2011

Mr. Moderation






Mr. Moderation




It is clearly a political thing, and I hate to talk politics on my blog. However, I am a teacher, and the observations I make about the generation I teach cannot be ignored, even if you should disagree with my perspective.

Last week, I saw a young man with a sweatshirt bearing the symbol of Cleobulus of Lindos, which I only recognized because I occasionally teach a course called Ancient and Medieval Literature. The symbol sparked a classroom discussion, which renewed my long-term dislike for the wisdom of Cleobulus.

 
Cleobulus was an ancient Greek poet in Lindos, on the Island of Rhodes, who was one of the Seven Sages of Greece. These revered wise men became widely renowned as the dispensers of knowledge to the youth of Greek civilization. It was this wisdom that was intended to carry ancient Greece to the top of the societal food chain in the sixth century BC. It did not work out so well. The great civilization declined, and I blame much on the teachings of Cleobulus, particularly his famous quote, "The middle course is the best." In this country, we are teaching the same lesson to our youth: Strive for mediocrity!

 
I think I hear Roman chariots.

14 comments:

  1. Somethings like caffeine and alcohol do seem to require moderation. There may be other things too. So Cleobulus have been onto something. :-)

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  2. We don't admire mediocrity. That isn't the story that brings a tear to your eye. The person who comes from nothing and uses what they have to make themselves into someone. We admire that. Whatever their gift is. We don't admire the Paris Hiltons of this world who are handed everything and still can't find anything good to do with it. At least, I don't. That is mediocrity at its finest. And it is a shame.

    Yep. Definitely chariots coming.

    Robin Out.

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  3. I am not familiar with Cleobulus or his teachings.
    My 14 year old son, whom has learning disability, is always striving to do the very best that he can, he goes to math tutoring 2 afternoons a week voluntarily and studies hard to try and grasp what's being taught. He so desperately wants to understand and finds it very frustrating at times but he never gives up. He tries his best to the the very best he can all the time, working 3 times harder than those children to whom it just comes naturally.
    So I feel terribly saddened that there are children out there that have the potential to do great things, that don't experience problems with learning yet they show a lack of ambition and are not encouraged in this area either.
    My sons drive to achieve the best he can, knowing full well that he may not come even close achieving his desired outcome ... makes me so proud because where he may lack academically he certainly he certainly doesn't lack in spirit, determination & pride!
    In the dictionary the definition for mediocrity is this "Ordinariness as a consequence of being average and not outstanding" .... I find this definition insulting & degrading for those, like my son, whom work so very hard to achieve "average" because of underlying learning disorders. My son is anything but mediocre ... to me, he is an outstanding young man!! It's sad though that the rest of the world probably will not view him the same way!

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  4. I am not familiar with Cleobulus. I say...reach for the stars!

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  5. Katherine, I admire your son, and you as a mother. I'm sure he got his determined spirit from you :).

    Maybe I'm naive in thinking that people are trying the best they know. People are largely products of their environment. Children who never learn to work just can't seem to understand how to as adults. People want great things with their lives, the trick is learning to work! I know there's a lot more to it than that, but I think work ethic is a huge part of this wave of mediocrity.

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  6. Could he have meant the middle way of Buddhism?

    As for mediocrity, I remember reading about Oprah's decision to open a school in South Africa instead of right here at home. Her explanation was that the students in South Africa were so desperate to learn and viewed education as a privilege, in contrast to many students here in the US who take their education for granted and have a sense of entitlement to good grades.

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  7. In my household we refer to this phenomenon of mediocrity as the 'entitlement generation'. I guess if you think you have everything coming to you without trying, why bother giving your best? This is sad, but somehow I also think that something will change. The pendulum has to swing back. There are some like Katherine's son who WILL make a difference in this world. I am certain of it. Trying is the beginning of great things. Kind of goes with my question about what motivates people...

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  8. And I'm eating the dust of your chariot, baby.

    I do not know Cleobulus, sorry to say. But if you tell a kid to strive for something, isn't it silly to say, "Strive for mediocrity." Also, what it there to strive for when Daddy's checkbook is right there to bail the kid out???
    Love and peace.

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  9. It appears you all admire achievement. In my opinion, at least in the USA, we appear to have an entitlement generation, as stated by Jasmine. There is a big difference between trying your hardest, and simply making a mediocre effort to claim that to which you already feel entitled. I like this group of bloggers!

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  10. Achievement is an essence of life. If one just makes a small effort to go on with what is obtained by routine, that is, indeed, mediocrity!

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  11. I completely agree. That we seem to have stumbled into a culture of mediocrity and entitlement and that we must fight the tide and teach our children otherwise. I think much of it comes at home. Kids are not held accountable for themselves. As Manzanita says "Daddy's checkbook is there to bail you out" and I agree with what Galen said about children in other cultures being eager to learn but our kids taking it for granted.
    I was in pilates yesterday with a college teacher of 35 years. She made the statement that the over all behavior of the kids is deteriorating. She said 35 years ago the students were serious, well behaved, ready to learn but today in college classes students are talking, texting, answering cell phones and generally acting like they are on a bus not sitting in class. It is scary, this is the work force that is supposed to carry us through between when we retire and our kids are ready to take over the job! And we see it at work- one intern my husband's company wanted to hire. Every time I was in the office she was playing on facebook. I told him I highly objected to her becoming a permanent employee!

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  12. and a quote from Will Dinwiddie, one of my kid's ski coaches: "The World of Man is filled with Greed, Corruption and Pain. Faith is our only solace, Love our only Hope, and Hardwork is our only Reward."

    I'm not sure who he is quoting but I feel lucky that my kids are under his influence :-)

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  13. If we didn't have the inherent desire to achieve, then communism would work.

    Communism does NOT work. We ALL want to succeed and achieve based on our merit and work and efforts.

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