Culture of Mediocracy

Discussion in 'General Parenting' started by JJJ, Jun 25, 2012.

  1. JJJ

    JJJ Active Member

    I am so tired of "good enough" meaning that one has met the bare minimum requirements. When did "good enough" stop meaning one's 100% best to meet the top requirements. I get that not everyone is going to Harvard, inventing a cure for cancer or signing a mega-million dollar NBA contract. But why, oh why, is it so horrible to push children to their limits and a bit beyond??? (Not talking abour pushing a difficult child into a rage, but pushing any child to exceed expectations -- especially in school!).

    Piglet has an average IQ and a decent, but not great, work ethic. I have been hounding her every single day to do her summer school work correctly and completely. She has no problem doing the minimum asked by the teacher (fill out worksheets, color maps, etc.) but truly does not get why I expect her to READ every chapter and take outline notes on it and why I expect her to study every single item on the study guide. I admit, the pacing of summer school stinks. She is spending about 4 hours per day working on it but part of that is her dawdling and part is her slow reading ability.

    The part that drives me up a wall if her true feeling that an 82 is good enough because it is a B-. I have told her anything less than an A on her report card will result in loss of privileges. She is quite capable of getting an A. And to be honest, if I see her working hard for that A and she got a B- because that truly was the limit of her abilities, that would also be acceptable. Currently, her effort is about 80% of her best effort so I am not surprised that she is getting Bs. After one day of 90 minutes of sobbing, she has complied pretty well with doing the work, even if she isn't trying her best.

    She is my only one with the potential to go to a real college. She does have career goals that require her to have a masters degree. I will not let her blow it as a freshman because she does not get how important each and every high school grade is to that almighty admission formula. Especially because she does not test well and her ACT score will be very low compared to her abilities. Her GPA and class rank will be a vital part of her college application. A B- puts a student in the bottom 1/3 of the class rankings. The top 10 seniors all graduate with a 5.3 or higher (A=4, A+=4.33, plus the bump for honors/AP classes).

    She has the potential of getting some money through an athletic scholarship but she will need some academic money to supplement that plus the little we have been able to save. One school she is looking at does a sliding scale tuition based on GPA and ACT score. The difference between a C average and an A average is $12,000.

    I'msick of the push back from the school and everyone that I am pushing her too hard and that a B should be acceptable, even if she could get an A if she really tried!
  2. InsaneCdn

    InsaneCdn Well-Known Member

    She's 14.
    AND she has ADD.
    Hmmm... I didn't "get it" back then either.
    Nor did my majorly-difficult child bro. But HE is the one with a masters degree. (however, not on scholarship money)

    If you find the answers, can you share them?
    'Cause I have a 14YO near-easy child ADD kid... who puts in "reasonable" effort and gets straight As... and doesn't see why she needs to learn how to work (but her intended career will be at least 7 years of uni...)
  3. Ktllc

    Ktllc New Member

    I am with you on it! Your reasoning is very good and I would ask you: have you explained to her the way you explained it to us?
    Part of the problem is maturity and she will only gain it with experience, but she you could tell her that unfortunately her future is happening NOW.
    How motivated is she about her career goals? It would be nice if she could have a taste of what her life would be IF she achieve her goal.
    She is so young, you cannot let her decide what's best for her yet, but she needs a good understanding of what is at stake.
  4. chloedancer

    chloedancer New Member

    I think we are guilty also. As parents we push grades rather than effort. I realized this when my college aged daughter refused to take difficult courses bc they may mess up her gpa and my son who tries twice as hard has meltdowns over Cs. My new way of dealing with it is that I have told my kids any grade that is less than an A is fine, as long as all assignments are complete and turned in, I have seen them study nightly, and they have communicated with the teacher at least weekly. Also any available help ie tutoring, must be used. Then they have put in their best effort. If that yields a c I'm fine with that. That means they tried something difficult. If they don do those things, I will assume the materiel is not advanced enough for them and that an A is expected. I'll let you know how it could blow p in my face really bad lol. But my point was we as parents also need to encourage and recognize effort over grades.
  5. Malika

    Malika Well-Known Member

    Well, everyone is going to have differing views about this. My own - since you put it out there on the forum to share - is that your daughter has to be the one who is choosing to do well and expend effort. Being made to do it with threat of punishment is rather odd to me. Is it all about an A to get into college on a higher scholarship? Or is it about a genuine love of learning a subject in which you get enthusiastically interested and want to do well because.... well, just because? Or does that view just seem hopelessly outmoded and out of step with our modern, materialist culture? Maybe so but... one thing highly successful people sure have in common is their genuine passion for something, their love of doing things out of respect and love. And that breeds success. But success isn't the primary goal.
    Just my opinion. One can lead a horse to water but... drinking or not is the horse's decision.
  6. KTMom91

    KTMom91 Well-Known Member

    Honestly, I was just happy Miss KT managed to graduate from high school! I do understand what you're saying, though, because I was one of those students where things came too easily, so there was no point in working hard. A B was good enough if it required no serious effort on my part.
  7. DaisyFace

    DaisyFace Love me...Love me not


    You are preaching to the choir over here!

    I've spent the last several years watching my daughter throw away her high school opportunities. She is going to graduate next spring (thank goodness) at the bottom 10% of her class. Had she put any effort at all into her school, she could have been in the top 25%.

    It used to really upset me...

    until I've closely observed the way she runs her life. She prefers to put minimal effort in across the board. With that kind of attitude - she really could not handle university....much less a demanding career. So she seems to be choosing a life path that suits her effort level.

    I hope you have a chance to open Piglet's eyes to how much even a small amount of effort can pay off...

    but in the end - she's going to have to choose success (if she wants it) for herself.
  8. AnnieO

    AnnieO Shooting from the Hip

    Hon, I'm in the choir too... I have explained to both kids that it's not the actual LETTER GRADE, it's the EFFORT.

    I was WAY more impressed with Onyxx's C this year in Chemistry than I was with her straight As in 9th grade. And she got the point. (In April she had a D, in March failing with a 21% - and she passed Chem with a 79%!!!!!) And Jett? I look not at the end result but at the effort. He got an "A" this quarter in Science. Sans a 150-point project he didn't bother to do. He SHOULD have had a 61%. So, regardless of what the teacher GAVE him, he got NO applause. He is capable of As and Bs, so anything less is not acceptable. Onyxx, the same - with a few exceptions like Chem.

    Good enough ISN'T.
  9. InsaneCdn

    InsaneCdn Well-Known Member

    Well... in our house, it is... for a very limited sub-set of activities. "Good enough" is good enough for PE, but not for a sports-team you signed up for. It's good enough for the required "art" class - but not for the advanced option that you choose to take. There are some things that, by default are "irrelevant". The rest? Good effort = good enough mark.
  10. AnnieO

    AnnieO Shooting from the Hip

    IC, what I hear from that is - "Effort, not perfection."
  11. InsaneCdn

    InsaneCdn Well-Known Member

    We're more interested in the kids learning how to learn, than in the actual marks. If they can learn how to learn, then even if their marks aren't the greatest right now, they can go back and upgrade... and still become whatever dream is within their reach. But... if they just "float through", it doesn't matter how good the marks are, they aren't going to be able to "get there".

    And yes, I know - there are a few out there who somehow never learn how to learn and still end up with graduate degrees. But the numbers are so low that... I don't want MY kids counting on it!
  12. JJJ

    JJJ Active Member

    InsaneCdn -- I know, I know. 14+ADD is not a good combo, lol.

    Ktllc -- That is it. She has mildly defined future goals but cannot see the path to get there. I think she thinks that she'll just skim through high school and college so she can get to the 'good part' of doing the job she wants. My cousin (who is Piglet's hero) has a similar job so she is going to talk to her next month when we visit about how important it is to truly learn the material as completely as possible and not just the bare minimum to pass the classes.

    Chloedancer -- I agree that effort is more important than grades. But in her case, she is not putting in the effort to master the material, she is doing just enough to get a B- and calling it good enough. Most of the battles this summer have been about me wanting better effort from her to master the material, not just memorize and regurjitate some basic facts on a test. She has a 100% on homework/inclass work because she does do the worksheets that teacher gives her (75% of the time, they get 100% just for doing them, they aren't graded for completeness or accuracy). She an 86% on the tests because she is not putting in the effort to LEARN the material. I'm trying very hard to get her to understand how the material she is learning in this class (World History) is going to help her in future history and literature classes --if and only if--she actually LEARNS the material.

    Malika -- I agree that in an ideal situation, she would be learning for the love of learning. And she does do that when dealing with her preferred subject. But the reality is that she must take 20 required courses at school and most of them are non-preferred subjects for her. However, the grades still count and the material must still be learned. I cannot imagine not giving logical consequences to a child who does not meet expectations. If you don't use every tool at your disposable (from praise to tutoring to consequences) to help your child do as well as possible in school, how will you feel when their dreams are derailed because they can't get into college, or they can't get the scholarship money that is necessary for them to attend. As parents, it is our job to listen to our child's dreams and help steer them in the right direction so that, once they are old enough they are ready to sail forward on their own.

    KTMom91 -- I'll be thrilled if Eeyore can manage to graduate from high school with some basic trade skills so I get that!

    DaisyFace -- Piglet gives good effort when it is something she is interested in doing. I do not think she could handle a top university because she would not put in the effort for the less preffered classes. I see her doing well in her subject area because she simply lights up when discussing it and combs the internet for information related to it. I think she will need to pick her university very carefully to have it match her interests and her very visual learning style.

    Step -- Yep, I look at Kanga's A/B report card without comment since she has been 'given' grades her whole life. She is so far behind her peers that even giving her grades is silly. I love when she gets extra credit for coloring a picture quietly -- this is as a junior in high school. If Piglet was working her butt off, then I would be happy with the grades that happened but she isn't and our school has HUGE grade inflation with half of the class having a B+ or better average.
  13. Malika

    Malika Well-Known Member

    Well, you're doing your best for your child, JJJ, by your lights. I never had anyone taking any interest in my studies when I was growing up, except from a distance, and I realised after I wrote my post that this also has an influence of my view. I think it is great to want to help your daughter achieve her goals and dreams. Unfortunately, in the end, only she can make it happen... But why not give her all the help and encouragement you can while you can? Our methods and approaches differ, but I applaud your aims.
  14. TerryJ2

    TerryJ2 Well-Known Member

    I hear you!
    Sounds so much like my difficult child! Argh.
    I wish I knew what to say. If only these kids knew how very smart they were and how far it could go it they put their all into it. :(
  15. Wiped Out

    Wiped Out Well-Known Member Staff Member

    I so hear what you are saying. easy child/difficult child is very bright and had a chance at a full scholarship if she could get accepted to the University of Wisconsin. However, no matter what we said she could have cared less. She didn't get it. Now she has been out of school for only a year and is so upset that she didn't work harder in high school.

    She also gets mad at us because we are so proud of difficult child's grades. She says they're all modified so what difference does it make? I told her the difference is he tries his hardest and that is all we ever asked from either of them.
  16. SuZir

    SuZir Well-Known Member

    I'm in the different side of this. I have strived most of my life towards mediocrity and I am very happy to have achieved that.

    Both my parents were very driven and passionate people and while what is normally considered successful was not something they wanted to, they were both successful on their own goals. I grew to hate that intensity from a young age and decided early that I really wanted to be mediocre. And I have been. There have been few flares of drivenness in me, but I have found my way back to mediocrity. I have watched when people I went to University with have made much more high flying careers than I even though I tended to be more talented back then. But I decided early to mommy-track my career and have been very happy with that decision. I have been working in the job related to my degree after I spent my boys' first years as stay-at-home mom but I have certainly not been ambitious about it. I have made sure to work enough to guarantee my independence and make sure I could support myself and my kids comfortably even if something happened to husband who is our main breadwinner. He isn't that driven either (I wouldn't had married him, if he was) and we are happy in our mediocrity.

    We don't expect drivenness or giving their all from our kids either. We would be perfectly happy with them doing what they need to achieve their goals, whatever they are. easy child has his goals high and works for those and one could consider him somewhat driven. His grades are good (around 90-92 in the scale there lowest passing grade is 50, which makes him to be around top 5 % of his class) and he works hard for his sport. Less would be enough for us, but we do support his drive for these things. difficult child is even more passionate than simply driven. In fact he unfortunately does remind me of my dad at times. His internal motivation for his sport is huge and he does have also some passion for academics in areas that interest him. He does only do what is needed for the classes he is not interested of. But because of his school troubles we have asked more from him in grade wise than from easy child. If easy child ends up with for example 80 from class (around top 20-30 %), we don't care, but difficult child knows we don't intervene with how he does his school when the grades stay over 90. Currently his GPA is around 96-97 (making him top 1 % of his class and also nationally.) difficult child is very high-strung and intense individual and I don't think anything we did caused it and I also don't think you can make your kid that, if that is not who they are. You can make them practise but you can not force that internal drive and passion.

    While I really hated that intensity when I was young, I have learned to also appreciate and admire that passion. Partly because I have matured and detached from my parents and partly seeing that same intensity in my own kid. But still it is not something I would hope for anyone I love.
  17. cubsgirl

    cubsgirl Well-Known Member

    One of my biggest regrets is that I didn't put in 100% effort in high school (and I could have gotten a full-ride if I applied myself) in academics. I ended up doing very well in college but I had to pay for it. I really wish I hadn't skated through with mediocracy.
  18. Malika

    Malika Well-Known Member

    Lol, SuZir. Actually, I think there is a great art to this also, the art of being mediocre (in the best sense...), of being ordinary. Of being contented how one is and where one is. Difficult people are restless, never happy, always wanting something else, something more. It's a lot of suffering, for them and those around them. It is a great gift to be happy how one is, where one is, however it is. Success is alright... but it's overrated :)
    The people in my village are a great example of this. Born here, living their lives here, working mostly on the surrounding vineyards, seeing their children and grandchildren grow up here, they do not want to go anywhere else, even on holiday, or be anyone else... It seems terrible and limited from one perspective, but from another, it's wisdom.
  19. Allan-Matlem

    Allan-Matlem Active Member

    I find that if kids study together with friends who are somewhat ambitious about school it helps. It also helps when someone other than parents try to encourage a different attitude - parent -kid relationship has too much emotional baggage and everything seems to be a control issue . The way a ' personal coach ' would handle it is the way to go. The problem with school as Malika put it , is that there is very little of intrinsic value in the actual learning. The only thing of value is the piece of paper you get in the end.

  20. AnnieO

    AnnieO Shooting from the Hip

    SuZir... Something you said caught me. You have set goals and reached them - how is this mediocre? You decided to mommy-track your career - :bravo: I like that. YOUR goal, not society's. Which does NOT make you mediocre in my humble opinion.