Monday, June 04, 2007

Mommy, am I special? II

Like an arsonist returning to the scene to watch the blaze, Katie returns today to her theme that kids must be disabused of the notion that they posses any intrinsic human worth, and they must claw and compete for every bit of attention and recognition they get. Unless your children get up every morning with sweaty palms, you're just not raising your kids right, and your schools are failing them. They may grow up without the neuroses necessary to make them the competitive and driven jerks that you are; it could keep them out of the higher levels of the kakistocracy.

What has Katie so lathered this morning? Grade inflation. Oh, we've got trouble, right here in River City:

Mr. Simpson [a fictional high school teacher called "C minus Simpson] is long gone. And the tradition of designating a valedictorian and salutatorian -- students with the two top GPAs in a graduating class -- is fading fast. Lakeville and Eden Prairie high schools are among the institutions ending the practice this year. Lakeville South's current valedictorian has a GPA of 4.376 on a four-point scale, reflecting extra credit for tough Advanced Placement courses. Eden Prairie, which doesn't weight grades, had 23 valedictorians with a 4.0 average this year.

Clearly, these schools have a problem. You can't tell the really good students from the really good students who are also killers. There must be some way to design a curriculum that will sort out all of these over-achievers so we can rank them, one by one, in the social order. That would be the social Darwinist thing to do!

Spot is going to let you in on a little secret, boys and girls. About 275 dog years ago, Spot was the valedictorian of his obedience school. He beat out Rex and Rita by a nose, so to speak. Did it really meaning anything years later? Or even weeks later? Of course not. But Katie's lament today is emblematic of a world view that is the key to everything Katie writes.

What's her worldview, Spotty?

I was hoping someone would ask, grasshopper.

Katie believes in a world with a strict social hierarchy; a person cannot determine his or her worth except in relation to everyone else. Katie hints at this in her column today:

Are we serving our young people well by adopting this approach? I think not. As our graduates enter the workplace, they will come to understand that it's important to recognize merit if we want to get real things accomplished.

Every business division needs a manager, every army needs a general, and identifying outstanding talents for such jobs is important -- especially to workers and soldiers.

In other words, unless we inculcate a truly savage competitiveness in our brighter students, they won't turn into the kind of leaders who can lord it over everybody else effectively.

Katie's model for the optimum human organizational chart is, of course, the Catholic church. There is only one really Big Guy, the Pope. Everyone in the world is ranked somewhere below him in a magnificent orderly line. You must know you place in that line. If you work hard, and don't get too queasy about clawing your way over the backs of others, you may even advance a few places.

This all began in Katie's formative years at St. Buford's in Fort Dodge. It's there that she won her first self-flagellator at a church fund raiser, and she used to squirm in the pew with delicious agony on Saturday evening while waiting to confess that she had stuck her wet finger in the sugar bowl, knowing that some of her classmates had much worse to confess.

Update: When you have finished Spot's little riff, boys and girls, Spot wants you to go over to Across the Great Divide and read how Katie's column is not only social Darwinist, but hypocritical as well.

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