Road kill

A major weakness in the arguments I hear about personal development is that the focus is always on success stories, the person with true grit who prevails. What is not discussed, mentioned, noted, or dealt with are the bodies left dead beside the road to success. When Zig Ziegler says, “Meet you at the top!”, he isn’t talking to everybody.
10/2/14 I just read a letter Krashen sent to the L.A. Times on this topic. Here it is:
Published in the LA Times, Sept 30, 2014 under the heading: “High expectations for impoverished students”

As Garret Keizer points out, some students manage to overcome the effects of poverty and do well in school (“A level playing field at school can’t make up for a broken democracy,” Op-Ed, Sept. 27). But not many.
Grit and determination, and the best teaching in the world has little effect when students are hungry, ill because of lack of health care, and have low levels of literacy because of lack of access to books.
Existing evidence strongly supports Mr. Keizer’s observation that school success does not magically improve one’s economic status. And improving test scores will not help our economy: It works the other way around: Martin Luther King was right: “We are likely to find that the problems of housing and education, instead of preceding the elimination of poverty, will themselves be affected if poverty is first abolished”
Stephen Krashen
This letter posted at
also at:
People are both stupid and idiotic (see my blog post today re these technical terms) when they cite success stories to “prove” that poverty does not matter and is just an excuse. Oh, I’ll just post the post here:
It’s semantics. I use words like idiot and stupid in their
etymological sense. I know: etymology is not how you define a word, but
“stupid” the way I use it means they are in a stupor, induced by propaganda
and indoctrination. Idiot means they see things only from their own pov (see
Rebecca West’s nice definition of idiot in her opening of Black Lamb/Grey
Falcon). I understand these people can write code, design bridges, do brain
surgery, and run a corporation, but stupid and idiot, in their original
sense, do describe someone who allows himself to walk around in a stupor,
not questioning his own thinking. I read viewpoints that differ from mine
all the time, and listen to them on radio and tv. The same with idiot: I
realize a CEO might not understand what I do (did) in the classroom, but
that doesn’t mean he can’t grasp the perspective of a Singaporean
businessman. It’s when he refuses to see things from someone else’s
perspective that you have the idiot.
If people would break out of their stupor and stop being an idiot, they
still wouldn’t see things my way, but they might stop believing every bit of
nonsense peddled by shills for special interests. If you live in a
democracy, you need to act like it and do the hard work necessary to vote
intelligently. I recently blogged on a book of poetry whose preface is
ludicrously Marxist and left-wing; those folks are also stupid and idiotic,
and need to get a grip. Slogans and distortions don’t win dignity and
freedom. In college I had more in common with reasoned Republican arguments
than I did with the blustering of faux-socialists, even though I’ve always
had great sympathy for left-wing causes.
OK, so basically this is an invitation for people interested in this sort of
talk to join me on my blog (lots of stuff on language there, too) b/c
flteach is not the forum for it.

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