Youth Meritocracy


I am subscribed to newsletters from an amazing guy called Seth Godin and while I have received a bunch of deep, inspiring messages I’ve wanted to share with anyone who cares to read, none has compelled me to share more than what I am about to. Without wasting time:

The wasteful fraud of sorting for youth meritocracy

“Sorry, you didn’t make the team. We did the cuts today.”

“We did play auditions all day yesterday, and so many people turned out, there just wasn’t a role for you. We picked people who were more talented.”

“You’re on the bench until your skills improve. We want to win.”

Ask the well-meaning coaches and teachers running the tryouts and choosing who gets to play, ask them who gets on stage and who gets fast tracked, and they’ll explain that life is a meritocracy, and it’s essential to teach kids that they’re about to enter a world where people get picked based on performance.

Or, they might point out that their job is to win, to put on a great show, to entertain the parents with the best performance they can create.

This, all of this, is sort of dangerous, unhelpful and nonsensical.

As millions head back for another year of school, I’m hoping that parents (and students) can call this out.

When you’re six years old and you try out for the hockey team, only two things are going to get you picked ahead of the others: either you’re older (it’s true, check this out) or you were born with size or speed or some other advantage that wasn’t your choice.

And the junior high musical? It’s pretty clear that kids are chosen based on appearance or natural singing talent, two things that weren’t up to them.

Soccer and football exist in school not because there’s a trophy shortage, not because the school benefits from winning. They exist, I think, to create a learning experience. But when we bench people because they’re not naturally good, what’s the lesson?

If you get ahead for years and years because you got dealt good cards, it’s not particularly likely that you will learn that in the real world, achievement is based as much on attitude and effort as it is on natural advantages. In the real world, Nobel prizes and Broadway roles and the senior VP job go to people who have figured out how to care, how to show up, how to be open to new experiences. Our culture is built around connection and charisma and learning and the ability to not quit in precisely the right moments. 

But that’s not easy to sort for in school, so we take a shortcut and resort to trivial measures instead.

What if we celebrated the students who regularly try the hardest, help each other the most and lead? We if we fast tracked those students, and made it clear to anyone else willing to adopt those attitudes that they could be celebrated too?

What if you got cast, tracked or made the cut because you were resilient, hard working and willing to set yourself up for a cycle of continuous improvement? Isn’t that more important than rewarding the kid who never passes but still scores a lot of goals?

Before you feature a trumpet prodigy at the jazz band concert, perhaps you could feature the kid who just won’t quit. No need to tell him he’s a great trumpet player–the fact is, none of these kids are Maynard Ferguson–just tell him the truth. Tell him that every single person who has made a career of playing the trumpet (every single one of them) did it with effort and passion, not with lips that naturally vibrate.

We’re not spending nearly enough time asking each other: What is School For?

This a video that accompanied the message and the pdf with it.

 

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My Year In Review


 

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2013 has been one helluva year, it in many ways, has been my greatest year by far.

Did I make a million dollars, get my own crib, get a girl, sleep less, finally figure out what the hell I wanna do with my life or finally figure out what I’m talented at? Um well, no!

I think this year has been the greatest chiefly due to one thing, I’ve been happier! Yup, that simple. If you’re like that with me, you’d know I can be depressed for long periods, this annoying mood usually arising from my own self-pity and constant nagging.

I dunno what my pals think, but personally, I feel like this year has seen that at an all time low and boy am I glad. Starting out this year, instead of the usual page long or so resolutions I wrote and started abandoning by the end of January, I simply resolved to be a better version of myself. Vague, I know!

But hey, here I am!

I’ve always loved tech, heck I wanna program although I don’t think i’m too bright at this, but i’m trying anyway.

I love music and try to make some, that doesn’t seem to be going great either, at least commercially anyway. For fun however, mehnnn [Kwabena Jones voice], I dey ball roff roff… hehehe (would’ve added lol but just read a ludicrous comment that lol means lucifer our lord. sighs)

Musically, I discovered, well more like fell in love with a new act, again if you know me, you can easily figure it’s something to do with rap. So yeah, since Mr. West has decided braggadocio is the ultimate way to go in his music, lyricism coupled with style still tops the list for me, welcome Yonas. Y’all should check him out. Which brings me to the other musical highlight of the year, EDM (Electronic Dance Music) and boy does Yonas blend HipHop with EDM so well, so yeah, ultimate win win!

Oh let’s not forget Wiley and his Eski beat (aka Grime).

Anyway, as I’m sure most (at least what I think is normal) people are, the stasis isn’t quite right, I hate sitting around doing nothing, though that’s what I seem to do best (I swear I have a PhD). This year once again saw Chale Wote in the middle of the year and Ind!e Fuse to commence the Christmas festivities. I was very much a part of both events, helping out in my own small way the Accra dot Alt team. Yaaaaay! The way then I make happy eh…..chale!!!!

I’m also happy for Akolabone, the clothing company I’m a part of. We made some moves this year, made some mistakes and are learning from it and trying to improve ourselves and finally taste resounding success! You really should check out previous designs and watch out for next year’s collection; it’s gonna be off the chizain (I dunno,did I spell that correctly?)

Em what else? Oh yeah, I think I got more sociable this year. At least I have more friends acquaintances now in school than I did in all my two years so far. Big win chale! And twice, I almost got a girl, silly illusions both times chale. LOL!

Well, I think that’s been about it. I’m sure there’s more stuff (or less) that I could blabber on about but chale…

I’m glad the year is almost over and there’s a new year to look forward to. If there’s one thing I benefited from this year, it must be a reduction in the amount the haze in my life. I can see better than before (more clarity), but still not clearly enough. Oh well, next year, hurry your ass on here so I can see what’s up.

Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year.

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