Monday, October 29, 2007

OK to Less Stress - But the Best Defense is Still A Good Offense

Less Homework, More Yoga, From a Principal Who Hates Stress - Needham, MA high school principal Paul Richards is taking steps to reduce the stress experienced by his students. He's also taking flak from Rush Limbaugh and cheap shots from Jay Leno. Without knowing anything whatsoever about this situation, As Good As News, while always reserving the right to take cheap shots of its own, will now leap to Richard's defense -when Limbaugh and Leno jump on the same bandwagon they are inevitably dead wrong, and that poor wagon is way over the maximum weight limit (more cheap shots to follow).

Jay, high school is a little different today. Your 1960's experience - a dyslexic kid from Andover who spent most of his time playing with motorcycles, learned to live with the mediocre grades his dyslexia was producing, stumbled into Emerson College and ultimately found himself in stand up comedy - would come out a little differently today. Your dyslexia is diagnosed - you spend hours in therapy and get extra time on all your tests, which marks you as different from all your classmates. Your family, alarmed by ever tougher college admission stats - harasses you constantly into building a decent resume so you will have some options when it's time to pick a college - you play football, join the drama club, struggle to keep a B average, take an SAT prep course three times and work in a soup kitchen. You enjoy the drama club, but you tell no one. You take copious mental notes at the soup kitchen, developing "homeless guy" guy routines for your pals in the football locker room (Jay - the fact that you're an overactive stressed out modern high school kid doesn't mean you can't still be a cheapshotting bully). You actually earn admission to - Emerson College (in 2007 this is an achievement, not a last resort). Your drama club experience haunts you and you question your sexual identity. After a brief struggle with some ill conceived sexual experimentation you find yourself as a stand up comic.

Rush, even though you are from the sticks, you came from a successful, well-to-do family, the leading lights of Cape Girardeaux. With that kind of background you felt a lot of pressure to succeed in high school. No doubt that's why you went on to graduate cum laude from Harvard - oops, sorry, I meant drop out of Southeast Missouri State, then wander through drug addiction and three divorces, all probably because your wives were jealous of your one true love -food.

Here are two guys who succeeded big time in life, albeit as cheapshotting bullies who scan the news at the shallowest level looking for opportunities to pander to their audience without getting bogged down in any real facts. Did they succeed because they excelled in high school in response to extraordinary pressure? No, they spent high school preparing to be mediocre students at best, but survived to succeed much later because in the 1960's, when these guys went to high school, failure was an option. Principal Richards is motivated by his desire to respond to a culture that helped to produce four suicides in the Needham school system. Maybe he has a point.

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