Wednesday, January 11, 2006

Not everyone is a leader.

Like most high schools, mine has a chapter of the National Honor Society. A few hours ago, I had the "honor" of being inducted into it (along with my name getting an ovation - I have three middle names) with 180 other students out of a junior class of ~480. That's 38% of the class. Obviously that's ridiculous, and I see it as emblematic of a larger problem: there's a trend in society, especially with children, towards calling everyone exemplary, encouraged by the overuse of standardized tests - parents get offended when told that their child can't read, so the goal for reading is raised to third grade.

The four characteristics that are supposed to be exemplified in NHS members are Scholarship, Character, Service, and Leadership. Anyone who knows more than five people can tell you that 38% of any population will not possess all of those characteristics, especially that of a public high school.
  • Scholarship: First of all, 38% is way more than the 10% of the class which gets automatic acceptance to Texas state schools just because they're in the top ten percent. Secondly, grade inflation is so rampant at my school that people who take fairly easy classes and suck up to their teachers can easily cruise by with all A's, which is plenty to get in to the NHS.
  • Character: My high school is known citywide for its snootiness, cheating is rampant, and most students have no ambition because they're rich and they know it. Kids attend drunken parties Saturday night, frequently screwing random people they've never met before, and then go to church Sunday morning, hangover and all, and pray with the congregation. (I'm not religious, I just don't like hypocrites.)
  • Service: I've got to hand it to my classmates here; no matter what else you say about them, HP kids to a crapload of service. Problem is, on the bus back from building a house for Habitat for Humanity, they'll crack racist jokes, the irony zipping miles over their heads.
  • Leadership: Here's the really bizarre one: by definition, only a small percent of the population can be leaders. The encouragement of "leadership in all students" (a Google search for which uncovers frightening numbers of education institutions who apparently endorse it) is simply oxymoronic and absurd.
Note: I don't mean to give the impression that all Highland Park students are like this; there are a large number of intelligent and motivated students; however, they do not make up the majority, or anywhere even close to it.


Blogger Aly said...

I like your blog and especially this post. I never joined NHS when I was in high school for all the reasons you illustrated, and because everybody just used it as a resume filler, which no businesses/colleges take seriously.

Keep up the good work.

4:58 AM  
Blogger Sam said...

Didn't The Incredibles's make this point a long time ago? I am reminded of this quote in particular

Dash: Dad always said our powers were nothing to be ashamed of. Our powers made us special.
Helen: Everyone's special, Dash.
Dash: Which is another way of saying no-one is.

So really, you just plagerized the incredibles. How do you feel about that?

9:35 PM  

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