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Wednesday, April 03, 2013

Award Winning Excellence

When we want more than we can actually obtain, we find substitute solutions just like the Cargo Cults. We have religion to help us deal with our existence and mortality. We have exalted leaders to give us a sense of order. We have corporations to keep us employed. And yet, the limits of these human constructs continue to let us down. The cargo doesn't always come. Only the laws of science seem to be constant.

At the Oscars, when a celebrity has to step out for a smoke or a bathroom break, their are people who take their seats so as to mask the stars absence. When we have an area of life that lacks a scientific explanation, we have seat fillers. In the world of professional scientists (I didn't say science), the truth is not coming to us as fast as our publications are being churned out. The area between science and what we want to believe is where we can put ourselves on the right or wrong path. It's the area where we went from assuming a god created us to beginning to understand genes and the structure of DNA. It's also the area where Alchemy exists. There is a fork in that road where scientific leadership is suppose to lead us. When the leaders decide that RNA interference, for example, is the right road we end up with years research and billions of research dollars wasted. We wanted our scientists to provide us with a tool to make future research easier. We got it.

Here is an example of what I am talking about, taken from the world of education. We as human beings want our leaders to make us smarter. We have ignored our limitations and we've given the leaders an impossible job. What do they do with their task? They succeed!

Three Dozen Indicted in Atlanta Cheating Scandal!
...the teacher came around offering information and asking the students to rewrite their answers. Juwanna rejected the help. According to Howard, Juwanna said that when she declined her teacher's offer, the teacher responded that she was just trying to help her students. Her class ended up getting some of the highest scores in the school and won a trophy for their work. Juwanna felt guilty but didn't tell anyone about her class' cheating because she was afraid of retaliation and feared her teacher would lose her job.
We wanted so badly to see the students get better grades that we created leaders to get the job done. Failure was not an option. We handed out medals for success and pink slips for failure. Then we had to face reality. We had exceeded the limits of human capabilities. The humans had to cheat or try their best and hope that things turn out in their favor. When your livelihood is riding on the outcome it is not out the question for otherwise honest people to cheat. We must also assume that the most dishonest among us will do the best. Juwannas teacher certainly did well. She won a trophy. Dr. Beverly Hall, the schools superintendent appears to have won a Nobel Prize! Just look at that medal.

In education we have a flawed system to begin with. We begin with the assumption of perfection, 100% or 4.0. Each time a student fails to tell us what we told them to think, we dock points from their perfect grade. The educators indicted in Atlanta took were suppose to bring their students average closer to perfection. They found a way.

We have to be careful what we ask our leaders to do for us. There is no shortage of highly skilled people willing to tell us what we want to hear.

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