Saturday, May 30, 2015

Myth of the "self-made man"

Two separate conversations (plus some previous reading) converged in my brain this morning, thanks to Facebook, an impromptu afterschool pow-wow with colleagues, and a great book recommendation.

The topics?  Privilege and entitlement.

A friend posted a link on Facebook to this editorial comic strip:  "On a Plate: A Short Story About Privilege" by Tony Morris. Please take a moment to follow the link before reading on.

So there's the Facebook post.  

The recent discussion with colleagues was about the attitude of entitlement we get from some students.  This is demonstrated by disrespectful comments, expectations that rules and deadlines don't apply to them, and a general lack of remorse for wrongdoings or when their actions inconvenience others.  Developmentally, children can act in a selfish manner, but it's the adults' job to teach them how to care for others, and how their actions impact others, so we were left to think about how to do that within the scope of our jobs.  (That could be a whole 'nother blog post!  For the record, we also have students who are amazingly compassionate, helpful, and polite.)

The book that comes to mind is Outliers by Malcolm Gladwell.  I've already blogged about the Gladwell's message that no person's success happens without circumstances lending to that outcome--being born into the right family, in the right decade, right locale, etc.

Yes, hard work and dedication help you "move forward" in life.  But like the game "Mother May I", whether you get to take giant steps or baby steps is largely determined by your circumstances.  I challenge anyone who thinks otherwise to take a hard look at their past, and that of their ancestors, to connect those dots.  

If you spot those giant steps along that path, be grateful for the conditions that allowed that to happen, acknowledge that privilege--and maybe lend a hand to someone who needs a giant step to get ahead.

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