Wednesday, June 28, 2006

Now, for an entirely different topic

I just got back from the Burger King down here in lower Manhattan, just across from Ground Zero and I am totally disgusted - not by Burger King itself (perhaps I should look at the "nutritional" infromation for my Angus Burger to remedy that) - but by the exchange at the counter.

The total came to $6.71. I gave the woman - who looked like she had just graduated high school - or was at least no younger than someone entering her senior year -- $6.76. Predictably, she said "you gave me too much" and tried to give me back my penny.

Now, putting aside what it says about me that I give people an extra penny to get a nickel back, this exposes two serious failings of our school system:
1. The failure to impart basic math skills and
2. The failure to teach humility.

The first point seems obvious and need not be belabored here, but the second needs some explaining.

Our schools, in this self-esteem infected culture we live in, do our children a great disservice by teaching them that they are wonderful are winners and as good as everyone else at all things. By doing so, they empower children to think that because they cannot see the logic in something, and because I am a winner, the poor fellow advancing the competing logic must be wrong. Indeed, unlike the academics that preach this garbage, kids instintively know there are winners and losers - thus, because they've been taught that they are winners, unlike the academics that somehow believe we all can be winners, kids know the other guy must be a loser.

Had out schools taught my new friend humility -- she would have had the sense to at least say "self, this crazy guy gave me 76 cents when only 71 cents were necessary, I do not know why, but perhaps there is a reason, perhaps he knows better." Then she just woudl have punched it into the register - WHICH CALCULATES THE DARNED CHANGE ANYWAY - and she would have learned that I was attempting to change five pennies (one of my own and four she was going to give me) into a nickel. Instead, she was quick to correct me and thus violated the maxim "better to be though of as a fool than to open your mouth and remove all doubt."

Humility. It is an underrated trait. Perhaps in light of the failure of our schools to teach basic math it is too much to ask that they teach this hallmark of character. Schools, however, cannot be graded a success until they do both.

PS - I told her three times "no ketchup, no mayo, no sauce." It was like I told her to put a gallon of BBQ sauce on the thing.

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