Boston Globe Celebrates Feelings Above Education

We no longer educate in the United States of America. No, instead of making to educate our children we emot-ucate them. It's all about our children's tender egos, their vaunted self esteem, their itty bitty feewings. We don't want them to know or understand so much as we want them to "feel good" about themselves. If they don't know during what years the civil war was fought, that's OK as long as they think they are "good people" anyway. If their math skills are substandard, who cares as long as they really like themselves?

The Boston Globe, for its part, seems to agree that everything is better when our students "feel better." As far as real life's lessons go, as far as hard work, good grades, educational standards go... well, not so much. No, it’s "group therapy, "liberation", and "collective defiance" meant to make kids "feel good" that the paper seems to feel is a story worth pursuing.

On April 8th the Globe published a story titled "Wall of rejection letters is teen's group therapy," wherein the Globe celebrates the "defiance" evinced by the kids in Newton South High School who sought a measure of catharsis by posting their college rejection letters on a community bulletin board designated the "wall of shame."

The Globe was pleased to see these kids making themselves "feel" better by each gathering his rejection together with others' and transforming individual failure into a festival of self-pity aimed at mitigating responsibility. "Gosh," the feeling seems to be, "if everyone else is failing too, I must not be so bad after all!"

The truth is, though, if so many others are failing, perhaps there is something wrong with the education these kids are receiving at the High School level? Instead of everyone breathing an undeserved sigh of relief that they are "in the same boat" as others, it would do far more for their futures should they endeavor to find out how to get in a different, more seaworthy boat.

But, look at the delusions these kids are under as described by the Boston Globe.

With each maddeningly thin envelope, each remorseless rebuff from another top-choice college, Kellen Mandehr died a little death. In search of catharsis, the senior at Newton South High School posted the offending documents on the school's "Wall of Shame," a hallway bulletin board blanketed with dozens of college rejection letters.

With each punch of the stapler, each slam of his fist, Mandehr won a small measure of payback. And a large measure of liberation.

"It was definitely a good feeling," he said yesterday, reminiscing by the mural of rejection letters. "I pounded it pretty good."

Payback? Liberation? From what? A successful life? This young student did not win anything here. All this student did was fool himself into imagining that everything was just fine. Sort of like whistling through the graveyard. Its a scary walk, but the whistling does make one feel better despite the gravity of the situation.

Yes, Mr. Mandher got a "good feeling" but he still has no college acceptance letter. But if a "good feeling" was all one needed to carry one through life then all that annoying learning and hard work would be unnecessary.

High school seniors everywhere have traditionally posted their rejection letters as an act of collective defiance against the high-pressure and hypercompetitive college admissions process. But this year, with top-tier colleges rejecting more applicants than ever before, dejected students say they are especially in need of what amounts to a group hug.

No, a "group hug" won't get them the better grades that they need to get into the best schools. It won't make those sought after colleges change their minds and it won't pave the way to a better future, either.

In fact, it will serve to make their drive less effective as they wallow in their self-pity and substandard position in life, or, perhaps, allow themselves to become complacent instead of goaded to higher levels. It makes them settle for less instead of striving for more. These kids should not so offhandedly reveal their failure to the world, but double down and try harder. The school that allows this foolishness and the paper that approvingly reports on it should be excoriating these children not indulging in their excuse making.

Then again, maybe we should also be wondering how bad the education really is for these kids? Maybe the kids at Newton South High are failing because they haven't really been taught what they need to succeed at being admitted to the school of their choice? At least, if a decent grasp of the English language is any indication, these kids are not very well equipped to succeed. Let's review some of the quotes as reported by the Globe.

Mr. Mandehr, we can be reminded, was reported as saying:

"It was definitely a good feeling," he said yesterday, reminiscing by the mural of rejection letters. "I pounded it pretty good."

No, Mr. Mandehr, you didn't pound it "pretty good." You should have pounded it "pretty well."

On this so-called wall of shame one rejection letter had scrawled upon it this wonderful example of grammatical expertise: "Don't worry, I got in other places!" It makes one wonder exactly what was "got" in those "other places"? Perhaps "got into" might have cleared up the matter?

Then the story ends with this bit of inarticulateness from one Daniel Rabinowicz, 17.

"That rejection letter can be tough," he said. "But look at this, and you know you're not alone."

Of course, Danny probably meant "But when you look at this..." instead of just "But look at this."

I certainly hope that these kids didn't speak so badly during their interviews with the college admission boards. If they did, perhaps that might serve to inform them of one of the reasons why they got those pesky rejection letters?

Yet, to the Globe and these seemingly half sentient kids, rejection leads to "acceptance" when it should lead to shame.

Calling the postings the Wall of Shame is meant to be sarcastic, students say. In many ways, posting the rejection letters is a way to find acceptance.

Of the vocabulary that we are teaching our children, shame is one of the worst omissions.

Yes, it's all about the feelings, not the achievement. Along those lines, the Globe gives us this gem to paper over failure.

"It's unifying, and kind of celebratory," said Max Lorn-Krause, who was denied at several schools and plans to study theater at Ithaca College. "It's a rite of passage."

A "rite of passage," Mr. Lorn-Krause? No, a rite of passage is usually a celebratory event. Failure is nothing to celebrate.

Alex Kaufman told the Globe, "There's nothing worse than getting a rejection letter, but knowing you're in the same boat as lots of other people, that definitely helps." It helps? How? By making you "feel" better, maybe, but it certainly does absolutely nothing to fulfill your goals. But, Mr. Kaufman has been taught that "feeling better" is far more important than achievement, so to him posting his failure for all to see "helps."

This is the same empty sentiment expressed by Sofya Rozenblat who said, "It's very therapeutic. Letting everyone know made me feel so much better. I realized that almost everyone gets rejected, so it's one more thing we all have in common."

Such meaningless twaddle.

But it is revealing that for many of these kids failure isn't something they had ever been faced with until a college rejection letter appeared in their mailbox.

"These are kids who are used to getting their way their whole lives," said Newton South college counselor Barbara Brown. "For many, this is their first major disappointment. That can be very difficult, especially in a community like this."

This is no evidence of the brilliance of the kids at Newton South but it is evidence, rather, of the sparsity of challenge they have faced their entire young lives up until that very moment. If it took until their 18th birthday before the shock of failure ever knocked at their door, then it is obvious that the bar had been far too low for them. Oh, it isn't the kid’s fault as much as it is the School's. What is their fault is this obscene sentiment that failure is nothing to get all wound up about This foolhardy dismissal of failure that the "wall of shame" represents is certainly a step in the wrong direction right at a time when they need to be pushed ahead, not coddled.

Instead of the wake up call that their failure should be, the slap in the face that should send them back to the books to work harder to see how they might improve, they wallow in lowered expectations, assemble with other failures, and commiserate with each other, assuring themselves that it's no big deal.

Well, it is a big deal. It should be a big deal. You should be ashamed, not "defiant” – except where that defiance might spur you on to greater effort. Of course, that shame shouldn't stop you from harder work and it shouldn't be a cause for depression. But it is something that shouldn’t be brushed off as insignificant.

But, these are concepts that our schools fail to impart to our children and that failure does none of them any good. For that matter, as more kids every year are belched out of our High Schools without any useful knowledge imparted to them throughout their too easy lives, we endanger our very future.

Our schools are sending more idiots than ever into our greater society. But, the fortunate thing is they "feel good" about themselves.

Hooray for us. We’re number one… for now.