Social and Political Commentary

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This generation is raising a bunch of whimps

... the losers are winning

by Russ Priestley

It is stupid to have kids play organized sports in which there are no winners and no losers. I believe the theory is they do not wish to ruin the psyche of a child who is on the losing side. Yet at the end of the season a banquet is held and each child receives a plaque or trophy with his or her name engraved. This declares everyone a winner. Well, isn't that special?

The walls and bureaus of these kids are filled with meaningless awards and trophies .. for not winning or not losing .. somewhat akin to a good attendance report. Later in life these hoodwinked kids will have to face losing and they won't be able to cope with it. This loser may climb the walls, show a tendency to suicide, or at least have crying spells, after which the loser gets some special privilege to console him. That could be having that extra dessert or TV program which were previously denied to him. When will parents wise up to the fact that life involves losing and make it apparent to the child?

I was teaching a class once in which a child with a cough had to resort to a cough drop. The child across the table from him shouted, "I want one of those!" Of course the cougher could not give out his cough drops. His refusal sent the requester into a tantrum. A teacher across the hall heard the commotion and came to my rescue explaining, "Oh, he has ADD. Let me take him." When I was a student, ADD was used in the arithmetic class, the opposite of SUBTRACT. In this case, it meant that kid had Attention Deficit Disorder and was treated with Ritalin .. so the teacher, in my case, was learning.

Later I had a student with the same so-called disorder and he needed a special van to take him to and from school. I wonder what psychologist thought up this one, but more importantly, what has caused this disorder of recent years. Can TV being used as a baby-sitter be the root cause, or is it the total neglect or absence of the necessary attention in rearing a child?

In my school days, there were a few students in grammar school who could not keep up with fellow students. They were all taught by one teacher in one room and it was called the "Special Class." That teacher was able to teach something to those kids. They were just termed "slow learners." None had individual abbreviated disorders which had to be treated by a special new medicine.

I heard on a recent talk radio program about a child who had to bring her dog to class. Her parents convinced the school that she had brittle bones and needed the dog for support, otherwise a fall would mean a broken bone. What about the distraction to other students, or dog bites, or allergic reaction to dogs or animal fur? In the same program, a teacher called in to say, "There is too much catering to the 'special needs,' whether real or imagined. In the course of a day, I have as many as twelve adults walk into my class to administer some special advice or treatment to a student. It's very disruptive and I believe unnecessary. It makes my day very difficult in trying to teach with a modicum of continuity."

Another bothersome subject: How did so many people get allergic to so many diverse things. Some schools are dropping peanut butter from the meals. (Why did the government get into supplying meals?) The basic food of peanut butter, or even the presence of a peanut in any food can make some kids have an allergic reaction. If children persist in finding things to which they must have special privileges, let them find a private school which caters to all allergies or special needs.

September 1, 2006

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