Thoughts! 17

Thoughts ran through my head this morning. I have deep thoughts about why our children are falling behind and about why we are seeing increases in psychological and neurological diagnoses. My thoughts result from my individual experiences and from things I have read and observed over my fifty-four years.

What about You?

Have you noticed that schools, employers, and most organizations have moved from individual accomplishments to group accomplishments? Yet, historically is it individuals or groups that we recognize as world’s great inventors, scientists, mathematicians, composers, and artists?


Historically farmers tended to the crops and animals on land they owned or leased. Family stores and businesses were the norm. Previously employers judged employees by their individual accomplishments not by how the people they sat or stood next to performed. Their co-workers did not determine hiring or their wages.


Today we judge others by a different standard and everyone has a vote on how everyone else performs. Even doctors in private practice are not immune since some insurance companies now determine reimbursement by surveys they send to patients. Ironically, it is not just about patient outcomes, it includes how well you like your doctor and his staff. People judge this based on whether or not the receptionist smiles or on how quickly the receptionist answers the phone, etc. It makes it easy to gang up on those who are not exactly like us or people we do not like for whatever reason.

It starts early too! Our children have more and more group projects and their classmates weigh in on how much they contributed. Imagine being different in middle school and having to deal with this scenario!

What Do You Think?

How well do those who are brilliant, but not liked do? Do they learn to play the games to fit in? Or do they turn inward and become depressed, anxious, moody, or maybe even aggressive?

What do you think? Could I be on to something here?


  1. Interesting thoughts, definitely. Individual performance and individual recognition is definitely important. On the other hand, people rarely do anything alone. A lot of discoveries are made as team efforts, and it’s long been the big name that gets the credit whether the big name worked alone or not, whether the big name actually made the discovery or not.

    In all things, I think balance is the key.

  2. I have always worked better individually but was always willing to work in a group if the people I was working with were my friends. I had a group project in 4th grade and it was nothing but torture for me there was another girl that called me names through the entire project (I was overweight), of building a bridge with toothpicks. I kept telling the teacher and he would give pat little reprimands. I finally tired of being picked on said something that made the girl cry and I was told “I helped you everytime she teased you and now you say something mean to her I cannot help you anymore” (this is what I heard anyways). I know what I did was wrong but I know if the girl had been disciplined in an efficient manner I would not have ever said what I said or even felt that I needed to defend myself. If I knew back then what I knew now I would have gone to the principle. Luckily the teacher was only a sub or my 4th grade year would have been hell! I am more flexible now though.

    • Mom Gone Rogue,
      I am hopeful that people will have their hearts and eyes opened by the movie, “Bully.” Unfortunely, there are still adults who fail our children and when children are blatantly abusing others with cameras rolling and adults are blatantly ignoring the root of the problem and accusing the victims, I fear for the future unless things change.

  3. Sue, your observations are very much on target. In my looking back upon my years as a high school principal, “education” has lost the art of education. Groups projects, cooperative learning strategies, peer mentoring and coaching, peer evaluation are not educational strategies, but concepts developed by competitive business environments to increase the bottom line,,,,dollars. Working together on the assembly line produces higher profit margins. Somehow for kids with special needs, our goals needs to be different.
    Another disturbing trend to me is standardized assessments which are linked to graduation…not all kids perform well on timed paper-pencil tasks. If you examine data, kids with special needs graduate at significantly lower rates because of NCLB. Also the CEEB has radically limited testing accommodations for special needs situations on the SAT’s…another arrow in back of our children. I could go on and on, but the industrial model has infused the educational system.
    When I was a neophyte in education, discovery, excitement, independent research, individualization, etc. were the cornerstones. Very sadly, we have lost that vision and the most effected are our special students…we are losing generations. The most profound workshop I attended was a weekend seminar by John Taylor Gatto, author of “Dumbing Us Down” and oother works, in the vein of Ivan Illich and “Deschooling Society.” You are right, we are heading in the wrong direction and our children are being hurt, When you don’t fit the model, you suffer…it’s fairly straightforward.
    Yes, you are on to something very important…..and, thanks!

  4. Sadly the concept of acceptance is has moved from individual to group. I wonder…did Einstein have a good group participation or did he strive to find himself alone inventing and solving? Thanks for the post!
    Peach State

    • Mahalo for stopping by and commenting. Yes, acceptance has become a group concept.

      Albert Einstein did much of his work alone although he did collaborate with others. I am not sure how well he got along with his collegues as there are mixed reports about this. Still his individual ideas were valued.

  5. Very thought provoking. It does seem as if a shift has taken place accross our culture. I watch cartoons with my son and I have noticed that there is as much or more social propaganda in our recent American cartoons than in the Soviet cartoons my husband was raised on.

    I believe that the shift is a well-meaning one. The intentions suggest inclusiveness, fraternity. Yet, the individual is getting lost.

    Thank you for sharing an interesting idea.

    Lori D.

    • Lori,
      Yes, I see the same things and yes, I too believe the intentions are well-meaning, yet it is coming at a high price. Individuals should still be valued too!

  6. I think you may be right when you suggest that young people learn to play the game to fit in. I have a very different 10 year old. Like me she prefers her own company and is content to work away on her own. This of course does not tie into the ethos that seems to permeate all education establishments these days. Like you point out she plays the game and gets on with it, otherwise she is marked as the odd one out, the one that won’t join in.

    I am currently doing a post grad in adult education and yes the same ethos encompasses the course. It seems to be seen as positive within learning environments because learners are all on equal footing. No one learner sprints off in front.

    Loved reading your thoughts, I often have the same, and am always wondering in the long run what advantage will it bring.

    • Karen,
      I think there is value in some teamwork, but I am not sure that grades, raises, and even hires should be so dependent on it. There are many who work best alone and their individual successes are equally important.

  7. This is brilliant! Why has no one picked up on this before?!?

    You really do make an excellent point. Are we being expected to think & behave like everyone else too much? Is it causing our minds to turn against us to demand our individuality?

    Wow. You have given me quite a bit to think about. Thank you!

    • Forgotten,
      Thank you for your comments! I suppect others have thought of it, but may be afraid to voice it. I hope you will share this posts with others.

Comments are closed.