Let’s Set Our Sights Higher for Children

Not a Hero

Did you happen to follow the Italian Cruise Ship debacle? Did it cause you to cancel your cruise reservations? Wasn’t the picture of the ship on it’s side just very, very wrong?
Details about the captain’s role, or lack thereof, are still unfolding. It looks highly likely that he was irresponsible and reckless at best, and guilty of manslaughter at worst.
Someone recorded a conversation between the Italian Coast Guard Captain who took charge of the evacuation and the ships Captain, who apparently missed Captain Class the day they taught the lesson about the “Captain goes down with the ship.” Maybe he was texting in class during that lecture. In the conversation the Coast Guard Captain orders him back on the ship and he refuses, complaining that it is “dark on board.”
Later, the Coast Guard Captain, who took over the evacuation and initial resuce, was heralded as a hero. When asked if he thought he was a hero, he replied, “No, I was just doing my job. Since when is someone a hero for doing his job?”
Excellent question. While I am very glad he fulfilled his job, and assisted many people in reaching safety, our standards for being a hero seems to have gotten quite low. It causes me to recall the possibly mythical conversation between the pilot who broke the sound barrier, Chuck Yeager, and his superior officer. When asked how much money he wanted to test fly the dangerous and unproven experimental X-1 plane, Yeager is purported to have responded, “The Air Force is already paying me, it’s my job.”
Be careful about rewarding mediocrity. Minimize giving extra feedback for kids meeting minimum standards. While educational pressures in parts of China have gotten out of hand, the Chinese police actually have literal police squads breaking up late night study groups. The study groups have been banned by the government because the kids are working too hard at night and falling asleep in class. Ouch. No wonder Chinese students far outscore American’s in math.
Extra rewards can be appropriate when basic duties have been exceeded. Have expectations that your kids will fulfill their “jobs” with maybe a little positive reinforcement, but little “notoriety.” I encourage you to sit down with your spouse and discuss this, and give yourselves a grade for how you are doing on maintaining minimum expectations of all family members.

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