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April 9, 2014

Jonathan Tobin: Why Did Kerry Lie About Israeli Blame?

Samuel G. Freedman: A resolution 70 years later for a father's unsettling legacy of ashes from Dachau

Jessica Ivins: A resolution 70 years later for a father's unsettling legacy of ashes from Dachau

Kim Giles: Asking for help is not weakness

Kathy Kristof and Barbara Hoch Marcus: 7 Great Growth Israeli Stocks

Matthew Mientka: How Beans, Peas, And Chickpeas Cleanse Bad Cholesterol and Lowers Risk of Heart Disease

Sabrina Bachai: 5 At-Home Treatments For Headaches

The Kosher Gourmet by Daniel Neman Have yourself a matzo ball: The secrets bubby never told you and recipes she could have never imagined

April 8, 2014

Lori Nawyn: At Your Wit's End and Back: Finding Peace

Susan B. Garland and Rachel L. Sheedy: Strategies Married Couples Can Use to Boost Benefits

David Muhlbaum: Smart Tax Deductions Non-Itemizers Can Claim

Jill Weisenberger, M.S., R.D.N., C.D.E : Before You Lose Your Mental Edge

Dana Dovey: Coffee Drinkers Rejoice! Your Cup Of Joe Can Prevent Death From Liver Disease

Chris Weller: Electric 'Thinking Cap' Puts Your Brain Power Into High Gear

The Kosher Gourmet by Marlene Parrish A gift of hazelnuts keeps giving --- for a variety of nutty recipes: Entree, side, soup, dessert

April 4, 2014

Rabbi David Gutterman: The Word for Nothing Means Everything

Charles Krauthammer: Kerry's folly, Chapter 3

Amy Peterson: A life of love: How to build lasting relationships with your children

John Ericson: Older Women: Save Your Heart, Prevent Stroke Don't Drink Diet

John Ericson: Why 50 million Americans will still have spring allergies after taking meds

Cameron Huddleston: Best and Worst Buys of April 2014

Stacy Rapacon: Great Mutual Funds for Young Investors

Sarah Boesveld: Teacher keeps promise to mail thousands of former students letters written by their past selves

The Kosher Gourmet by Sharon Thompson Anyone can make a salad, you say. But can they make a great salad? (SECRETS, TESTED TECHNIQUES + 4 RECIPES, INCLUDING DRESSINGS)

April 2, 2014

Paul Greenberg: Death and joy in the spring

Dan Barry: Should South Carolina Jews be forced to maintain this chimney built by Germans serving the Nazis?

Mayra Bitsko: Save me! An alien took over my child's personality

Frank Clayton: Get happy: 20 scientifically proven happiness activities

Susan Scutti: It's Genetic! Obesity and the 'Carb Breakdown' Gene

Lecia Bushak: Why Hand Sanitizer May Actually Harm Your Health

Stacy Rapacon: Great Funds You Can Own for $500 or Less

Cameron Huddleston: 7 Ways to Save on Home Decor

The Kosher Gourmet by Steve Petusevsky Exploring ingredients as edible-stuffed containers (TWO RECIPES + TIPS & TECHINQUES)

Jewish World Review March 2, 2011 / 3 Adar II, 5771

Honor rolls with no meaning

By Betsy Hart



http://www.JewishWorldReview.com | Then my high-school freshman's "I'm Proud of My Honor Roll Student" bumper sticker arrived a few weeks ago, I told her, "There is no way I'm putting this on our car." She knows me. She wasn't expecting me to.

In general, of course, I don't like bumper stickers. The same goes for slogans on T-shirts and, for that matter, smiley faces in e-mails, but such is a different column.

These bumper stickers are on what seems like most cars in my community. At our high school, a GPA of just 3.125 out of 4.0 lands a student on the honor roll. Nor is the difficulty of the classes taken into account. In fact, 60 percent of kids typically make the honor roll there, which to me suggests there's not a whole lot of unique "honor" to it. Certainly none worth boasting about on a bumper sticker.

This isn't about my local high school, by the way, which is actually pretty typical in this regard and which I'm generally happy with. It's about a weird culture that wants to brag of mediocrity, largely so we can make our kids and our own egos feel good. But it all comes at a cost of incredible, well, smallness.

Now, before I go further and really tick people off, I will remind that I'm the one who always says, "I'm more concerned about whether my children go to heaven than to Harvard." And I'm open about the fact that there's not a lot of evidence any of my children are headed for the latter. Moreover, that's just fine with me. When they do their best in school — whatever the end game of grades — that is what I consider significant.

But not only do I still believe there is such a thing as excellence in this world, I think it ought to be valued, appreciated and elevated. Not for the smallness of ego or primarily even for the self-esteem of the child (or parents!) involved. But because it is right to honor who and what is supremely good, and, rightly done, it lifts up and ennobles those who contemplate such excellence. That's true whether in academics, art, business, music, certainly in character and more.

Look, Mozart and, yes, the Beatles will be appreciated centuries after Lady Gaga is forgotten, thank goodness.

Excellence transcends mediocrity, and meditating on that is a blessing and a credit to the human spirit wherever we are on that continuum ourselves.

Lumping kids who barely get above a "B" average taking easy classes with those who score over a 4.0 — yes, that's possible — in all honors work? (Again, let's be clear that no ox of mine is being gored here.) Such isn't ennobling for anyone.

Yes, yes, I know, there are other truly elite awards that rightly honor certain students, and it's only bumper stickers to make kids feel good and on it goes. But I see glaring from the back ends of cars all around me "look what I did" when it's typically not that big a deal — so that's my focus here.

Interestingly, at the same time I see honor-roll bumper stickers plastered on every vehicle for high-school kids, my junior high this year has done away altogether with "honor-roll assemblies" — even for the truly excellent students — in part because administrators don't want to hurt the self-esteem of those not being honored.

Really.

I think that makes the point well: In today's culture, it seems, we don't want to honor real excellence for the sake of looking up to, learning from, being inspired by and celebrating such excellence. Instead, we too often want to lower the bar and then boast about what is mediocrity for the sake of something as small as personal ego.

What a shame. It seems to me there just isn't honor in that for anyone.

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