I went to elementary school in the 1950’s. There have been countless improvements in education in the decades since then. Distributing awards for participation is not one of them.
Life’s a bitch; how wise is it to teach a child otherwise?
The NYT’s recently ran a story about a guy who begins each day with a two minute cold shower to remind himself of that fact. If the public learned of such a practice in the classroom, there would be thunderous outrage; but that lesson plan would be far less abusive of the student than awarding her or him a medal for showing up at a competition.
One thing that has dialed back life’s being a bitch is the discovery of how to use the energy stored in fossil fuels to make life easier. Think of what life was like before electricity or the internal combustion engines. The activities of daily living of 90% of inhabitants of today’s developed world go far easier than they did for 99% of the world’s population 200 years ago. Consider transportation, food, clothing, health care, hygiene…none of the advances in these would have occurred without fossil fuels.
But life is a bitch and pretending otherwise is a recipe for disaster. If you go back to the literature of 30 years ago, you will find climate scientists talking about the effects of global warming threatening to appear around the year 2100. The power of our scientific models and our statistical tools prevent us from attributing with certainty any particular weather event to global warming. But I am willing to bet all my hard-earned assets that a majority of climate scientists today believe that what just happened in Baton Rouge; superstorm Sandy; the weather calamities that seem to be occurring on a weekly basis around the world…that all these extreme events would not have occurred but for the climate change that resulted from global warming that resulted from the increased concentration of CO2 in the atmosphere that resulted from the combustion of fossil fuels...that has served to make life immeasurably easier. But, again, climate scientists can’t responsibly assert “with certainty” that any particular weather event resulted from global warming. Yet, at this rate, by the year 2100, we will be seeing sixty simultaneous Superstorm Sandy’s spread out around the world on a daily basis.
And thus the willy-nilly exploitation of the power of fossil fuels to debitchify life is coming back to bite us. Or, more likely, to destroy us. We all had a hand in this, but no awards for participation this time.
Time for a cold shower.