Friday, May 13, 2011

Good Enough = Mediocrity


I don’t rant often, so please allow me this self indulgence.

As a teacher I am accountable to my students, my student’s parents, my administrator, my fellow teachers, and the State of California. There are standards I am expected to meet and if I fail there is more at stake than simply my job. People count on me to do my job and do it well. That said, no one has higher standards for my performance than I do. My expectations for myself exceed everything else. When I fall short, I am disappointed. When I am successful I am proud.

When I am published I will be accountable to my readers, my publisher, my editor, my agent, etc… but the same personal high expectations will apply. Even as an unpublished author I expect my work to be the best it can be.

I mention this because I do not see this same personal accountability in the current *generation. Most of them have a ‘good enough’ attitude. There is no pride of accomplishment. If they are not successful, it is always someone else’s fault. There is no drive to become better. No need for effort.

Is this the next generation of artists? No, it can’t be. An artist has vision and is willing to work toward that vision. Young adults who feel entitled to handouts do not know what it means to apply themselves in order to accomplish something. I have written two books and am finishing a third; even though they are not published, I feel a tremendous sense of accomplishment about them. The current generation would consider me a failure because they only value the grade, the paycheck, the carrot, the external recognition. Without the drive to achieve or the ability to find validation from within, there cannot be real creativity or true quality.

Thank you for listening.  I welcome any thoughts or responses. I hope that someone has a different opinion – it will give me a sense of hope.

*I am making a generalization. This does not apply to any specific person, nor does it encompass all members of this generation.

9 comments:

Loralie Hall said...

Unfortunately, I agree completely with what you're saying. It makes me sad because they don't value the accomplishment. The work that we put into whatever we achieve. I only hope they learn.

Susan Kane said...

It is sadly true, all of what you wrote. When my father's generation survived the Great Depression and then fought in WWII, and then built up America in the 1950s, 'good enough' wasn't part of their vocabulary.
What happens next, I wonder.
Excellent post.

JEFritz said...

I can't speak for the generational part of the post, but I do see that "not my fault" mentality everywhere. No one wants to take responsibility for there own actions beyond what they absolutely HAVE to. It's definitely something that has to change.

lindsay said...

Aw man, just wrote an enormous comment and it didn't post. :( In any case, I agree with you completely. Next time I will save my comment before posting ;-(

Kathleen said...

I think I'm more Pollyanna....I think that middle school aged kids have always been eager to assign blame to others instead of shouldering it themselves...I'm not sure the new generation is significantly worse than the baby boomers in that regard. (I have done no studies in the area, mind you.) I think war era children are always more self-sacrificing and hard working. With the state of our economy, we may find that today's young children have a better work ethic. Part of the problem in our society is our over emphasis in testing and grades...If you can't get into a good college without a 4.3 GPA (remember when 4.0 was perfect?), then the grade becomes much more important than the learning. How do we change our society? All we can do is change ourselves! Thought provoking post, Erin! :-)

Erin Kane Spock said...

This post was actually inspired by the surly bagging girl at the grocery store who rolled her eyes when she was asked to assist, then put the soda in with the hamburger buns. From there I went in and proctored State testing where more than half the kids finished their tests in record time - and not because they really knew the subject. Sigh.
Yes, I see this same problem in my middle schoolers (not all of them and not all the time), but it seems everywhere. Apathy. Lack of something to look forward to. I hope that maturity will give them some sense of purpose - but if the young adults joining the work force are any indication it makes me afraid.

mary said...

Not to be a stick in the mud, but I don't think that much has changed from my generation to now. I can distinctly remember figuring out what the minimum amount of work would be and then doing just that when I was a pre-teen/teen. I think most adolescents do this subconsciously, but I think it's what they do. Some people never grow out of it, but I'd like to say that I have. I think it's just part of the maturing process.
Of course, I can't speak for older generations, but I think it would only be significantly different in times when that behaviour would bring them significant consequences.

Raquel Byrnes said...

I'm not in the thick of things as you are, but I do see a lot of potential out there. Kids that are already changing the world with their hard work, volunteering, and determination. Maybe they just don't get the air-time that the Jersey Shore set gets...but they're out there. Believe it.
Edge of Your Seat Romance

Karyn Reed said...

It is true that the vast majority of the next generation are uninterested in bettering themselves. Really though, are we demanding anything different? As parents we make excuses for why OUR child shouldn't have the same requirements as everyone else. As teachers we continue to change assignments and deadlines to make it easier on those who didn't bother to do assignments in the alloted time and will probably not accomplish them even with extra time. Then when there are parents and teachers who truly care about the quality of a child's work and the quality of their character they are considered too strict and way too old fashioned. Things need to change in our society and I fear the only way that is going to happen is for us to hit rock bottom first. And what exactly is bottom? I am afraid we have not found it yet.

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