Tuesday, March 4, 2008

Madge From Moose Jaw Makes Mincemeat of Us All. More Perspective When We Least Expected It.

Just like there are excellent, mediocre, and flabbergastingly horrible students, there are excellent, mediocre, and flabbergastingly horrible instructors, and excellent, mediocre, and flabbergastingly horrible researchers. And just like there are innately motivated students, there are innately motivated proffies. You may be a good researcher, or a good teacher, and hell knows, I've even heard them whisper of some who are both... but rest assured, most of you are just average. And that's by definition.

Ever get annoyed at your grammar Nazi colleague/editor who constantly tells you that sentences shouldn't end in prepositions, or that you're using the passive voice too much, or that your sentences are too long? Or maybe at your tech support person telling you that the way you handle your email inbox will make the server crash? Or maybe at the auto mechanic who tells you that you really must have your oil changed more regularly if you don't want it to break down again?

I bet your response is to nod politely, inwardly roll your eyes, and go about your ways. Clearly, these people are crazy for expecting you to invest so much energy into submitting yourself to their expertise! You have more important things to do and worry about... much like the "snowflakes" who roll their eyes at you when you correct their subject-verb agreement, or their misconceptions about the locations of the Hypothalamus, Grenada, and spell checkers.

It's not that I think that these kids should be making scholars' lives hell - on the contrary. These students should be elsewhere. Let me assure you - all these kids are good at something. It might not be something you and I value, but they are. And as a society, we are failing big time trying to connect our young to what they're good at.

Sadly, we live in a world where everyone is expected to be the same, and certain abilities are not valued. The poor chaps who, unlike you and me, do no have an excess of analytical and verbal intelligence, have been drilled their whole lives to be something they're not. A few of the braver ones disobey and try to make a living playing in a band or being social justice activists, but the meeker ones have been told so much to go to med school or become a lawyer that they may not even *know* that what they're really good at is baking pastries, or writing poems, or designing board games.

We provide safe, parent-approved paths into post-secondary education for over-parented middle-class kids, and tell them that they can either pick one of 12 options, or face parental disapproval, disdaining looks from relatives, and financial insecurity. For a change, just imagine being transported into a universe where football and dancing are required skills for all respectably-paying positions in society. Imagine taking a (required!) course in ballet, because if you followed your dreams to be a biomedical researcher, you'd have to wait tables and do it for free in your spare time, and your parents would disown you.

How long before you would roll your eyes at Ballerina Proffie?

Bitch out.