"Everything that is really great and inspiring is created by the individual who can labor in freedom" Albert Einstein

"A dame who knows the ropes isn't likely to get tied up." Mae West

Saturday, November 15, 2008

Bring back rugged individualism

"To be nobody but yourself -- in a world which is doing its best, night and day, to make you like everybody else -- means to fight the hardest battle which any human being can fight, and never stop fighting." e e cummings

Experts often proclaim that one of the problems with today's children is that they succumb to peer pressure. They want to be like everyone else and they are chastised and bullied if they aren't.

But you can't blame the kids. Society is no longer elevating the individual. Parents are to blame because they want their child to be like everyone else - just as smart, popular, well-dressed as John Smith's kid. Have you notice how so many teen-age girls look exactly alike? And of course, every kid is a winner and they've got awards to prove it.

Educators are to blame because they want to make their jobs easier by teaching standardized syllabus to a uniform group of children, without regard to boredom, challenges and intellect, to reach standardized test standards. Even businesses now practice "team building", encouraging employees to be part of a group, because now it seems the "best" ideas come from a committee approach.

Not so long ago in the rebellious 1960's , most of the teens and college-aged kids were preaching and acting non-conformist. Everyone rebelled from the status quo. But when these same people reached adulthood and began raising their own children, individuality went out the window and conformity became the new standard.

It used to be Americans held the individual in high esteem. Every person being considered unique and special. Individual (adj.) individuals (n.). Now it seems to be cool to be homogenized.

When one doesn't conform, he becomes infinitely more interesting. I personally like people who are a bit peculiar, who aren't afraid to stand out or away from the crowd, and are not ashamed of being who they really are. They have inner strength, self-esteen, and resolve that is almost unknown in the conventional circles.

If you think of some of the most memorable real and even fictional characters in your life, I'll bet they were the individualists, the so-called kooks, the out-of-the box thinkers and creative doers. The bland masses never survive tales of the past.

If peer pressure is such a big problem with today's kids, perhaps parents should start encouraging their children to be non-conformists and teach them to love themselves for who they were born to be. Then there would be no peer pressure problem because the kids wouldn't want to be like everyone else and would be perfectly content as the unique individuals they really are.


Going Like Sixty said...

"Oh, he's very popular Ed. The sporto's, the motor heads, geeks, sluts, bloods, waistoids, dweebies, dickheads--they all adore him. They think he's a righteous dude."
... Ferris Bueller's Day Off.

Wow books have been written about this!

Can you look at a Goth kid, a kid with his pants around his thighs, a kid with multiple piercings, etc. etc. and not have a judgment?

Children are different than high schoolers.

I think school uniforms would reduce the peer pressure in elementary through 9th grade. After that, let the kids show their personality in what they wear.

If teachers would learn to listen to what a kid is saying and not the way it was being said, there might be some progress.

Then there is the influence of media!

All we had to deal with is sex, drugs and rock and roll.

Oh, wait, it hasn't changed much has it?

So hard to generalize about such a broad topic, just wanted to weigh in with a couple of thoughts.

Catch Her in the Wry said...

If everyone would listen to what others are saying instead of making judgments from the way they look, the whole world would be a better place. Case in point: this past election.

I know multi-millionaires that look like bums and bums that look like multi-millionaires. I know smart people who wear Christmas sweaters. I don't judge their character or intelligence by what they wear.

Yep, it was a broad topic, but you'll note I'm limiting my posts to 10 minutes of writing time.

Anonymous said...

My daughter attended public school through 3rd grade. She's attended a Catholic school for the past three years (the difference in the level and quality of her education is significantly improved!).

It's interesting that she has become more vocal in expressing her thoughts and opinions in her current school. From the teaching methods used, I can tell that the educators at her Catholic school promote and encourage critical thinking and open discussion. (As proof, the presidential candidate who supported abortion lost their mock election by only a small margin! The debate the kids held was much more thoughtful and honest than the one held by the candidates, themselves!)

Until parents have more control over the education their children recieve, our society will continue to turn out "sheeple", who have been groomed since early childhood to follow the guidance and mores of those who are in control.

Anonymous said...

A thought provoking post. And you did it in ten minutes! I'm impressed. But then I'm confident that wasn't your motive at all. We have a problem in that everyone seems to want their 15 minutes of fame as promised by Andy Warhol. Apparently too many think that can most easily be achieved by imitating what those who went before did. Hence, too many Britney Spears, hip hoppers, and others too much alike for geezers like me to distinguish one from another.

Catch Her in the Wry said...

jp: Just another reason why my children were home-schooled until high school.