Training for Failure

I wonder what would have happened had Dr. Sherman's plan been put into action? It would certainly relieve stress -- and provide a much more realistic view of the world -- if we were all taught from day one to accept our mediocrity. Reported in the Newark Advocate, Dec. 1, 1936:

Training for Failure
It seems that parents are wrong in counseling their youngsters to study hard and aim for the presidency.
Anyway, Dr. Mandel Sherman, mental hygiene specialist at the University of Chicago, advises that young people be trained to become failures, in the ordinary sense of the word.
"Our educational system is suffering from an overdose of success stories," he contends. "One person in 10 is neurotic, one in 22 insane today because we train only for success. And only a few can be successful from a material standpoint."
Youth perhaps should be taught that a successful life need not include fame and riches. But history, studded with instances of handicapped youngsters who fought their way to success, indicates that it would be difficult to get the younger generation to bow its head to the inevitability of failure.
Posted By: Alex - Thu Apr 16, 2009
Category: School, Self-help Schemes, Psychology





Comments
Maybe our schools should teach kids about the annoying side of fame (like photographers trying to snap photos of you doing EVERYTHING, people going through your garbage trying to find something they can sell on Ebay).
Posted by Matt in Florida on 04/16/09 at 11:55 AM
mental hygiene specialist? is this another name for a quack?

either way, I think what the good doctor is trying to say is that we would benefit from a more realistic approach to educating and training our workforce.

steering kids towards university, college, tradeschools or good old-fashioned labor at an earlier age certainly works for the Brits.

we would hate to fall back into a caste system, but there is a balance there somewhere.
Posted by mrjazz on 04/16/09 at 11:57 AM
You can see the reason Brit Aldous Huxley moved to the States.

Because we have Alphas making hamburgers of course.
Posted by Pablo on 04/16/09 at 12:26 PM
quite a bombastic bunch!
Posted by mrjazz on 04/16/09 at 12:59 PM
Hrm. I've always told my kids they should just be happy. Period. One daughter wants to be a dog trainer and daycare worker. I say, more power to her. The other daughter wants to be a fairy princess and Handy Manny combo. What can I say, she's three??

I think we should probably reevaluate what "success" is.
Posted by KW in Dallas, TX on 04/16/09 at 01:22 PM
KW- you are exactly right.

That is the point of the British system. If you have a 14 y.o. kid who will clearly not be a career academic, let him learn to do something he will excell at and enjoy rather than spending the next 4 years feeling he has 'failed' or is inferior to the other students.
I managed dozens of British tradesman who were happy in their careers, comfortable where they were in life(financially and socially), and thankful they didn't have to study pre-calculus and chemistry!!
Posted by mrjazz on 04/16/09 at 01:32 PM
let me qualify that maxx...none of these guys had fathers, they would have most likely been career criminals. cool smile

(can't wait to hear what the wise and angry have to say about that!)
Posted by mrjazz on 04/16/09 at 01:44 PM
mrjazz - my post was not a response to yours. You just hit the submit button before I did.
Posted by Madd Maxx on 04/16/09 at 01:55 PM
MrJazz Madonna sold out on her most recent tour of the UK. I can't figure out why the Brits would pay that much to see a Gamma.
If you have a 14 y.o. kid who will clearly not be a career academic, let him learn to do something he will excell [sic] at and enjoy.

Perhaps the kid thinks he will excel and enjoy being a doctor or lawyer? I mean sure you can let him be a T.V. repairman but it isn't likely that he will choose that path given his aspirations. Now, if you tag him as a Delta early on he will probably be much quicker to fill his role in the workforce and may actually come to enjoy it.

I'm not so sure the American Dream and what the mental hygienist proposes are capable of coexistence.
Posted by Pablo on 04/16/09 at 02:08 PM
for years i did something i was good at, but i didn't enjoy it much. now i do something i love that i fell into totally randomly. sometimes you just have to ride it out to find your nitche. be happy first is a good idea. if you are happy with what you do and where you are in life then you are a success. poor and happy beats rich and miserable any day.(although rich and happy would be good) smile
Posted by Patty in Ohio, USA on 04/16/09 at 06:24 PM
Nah, just give me the RICH and I'll force the freakin happiness down my own throat! LOL
Posted by Skitt in SW USA on 04/16/09 at 06:32 PM
determination a very good trait skitt. LOL
Posted by Patty in Ohio, USA on 04/16/09 at 08:23 PM
well rodger if ya gotta study something...
Posted by Patty in Ohio, USA on 04/16/09 at 10:39 PM
David, I believe Bill Clinton graduated from Georgetown. He then went to Yale Law School and graduated from there in 1973 I believe.
Posted by Madd Maxx on 04/17/09 at 07:17 AM
Madd Maxx, your earlier comment about yo' daddy reminded me of the song RV by Faith No More.
http://www.lyricsdepot.com/faith-no-more/rv.html
Backside melts into the sofa
My world, my TV, and my food
Besides listening to my belly gurgle
Ain't much else to do
Yeah, I sweat a lot
Pants fall down every time I bend over
And my feet itch
Yeah - I married a scarecrow
I hate you
Talkin' to myself
Everybody's starin' at me
I'm only bleedin'
Someone taps me on the shoulder every 5 minutes
Nobody speaks English anymore
Would anyone tell me if I was gettin' stupider?
I hate you
Talkin' to myself
You don't feel it after awhile
You take the beating
I'm a swingin' guy
Throw a belt over the shower curtain rod
And swing - - -
Toss me inside a hefty
And put me in the ground
A drink needs me
I don't
I ain't about to guzzle no tears
So kiss my ass
Newscasters, cockroaches, and desserts
I hate you
Talkin' to myself
Everybody's starin' at me
I'm only bleedin'
where are the kids?
maybepregnantorondrugsoronwelfareontopoftheworldonthehonorrollonparoleontheDodgersonthebackofmilkcartons-
onstakesinthemiddleofcornfieldsoncoversoffuturehistorybooksonoldlady'smantleswalkin'onwaternailedoncrosses
I think it's time I had a talk with my kids
I'll just tell 'em what my daddy told me
YOU AIN'T NEVER GONNA AMOUNT TO NOTHIN'
Posted by kingmonkey in Athens, Ontario on 04/17/09 at 11:09 AM
Kingmonkey, that reminds me of a song by Mr. Bungle titled My Ass is on Fire.
Posted by Pablo on 04/17/09 at 11:14 AM
Denis Leary (author of "Why We Suck: A Feel Good Guide to Staying Fat, Loud, Lazy and Stupid" - I love that title!) said it best on NPR's "Wait Wait Don't Tell Me"

"...at that time when I was a kid President Kennedy was the President of the United States and I went to school one day and one of the nuns gave a speech about if you were born in the United States you can become the President, anybody can be the President as long as you're born here. So I went home and I said 'Dad, um, Sister blah blah blah said that anybody who is born in the United States can be President.' And he said 'That's true.' And I said 'Does that mean that I can be the President?' And he goes 'Pfft, hell no! What are you, are you nuts?' So it was a major blow to me at the time and then I realized as I got older that you can be almost anything but President was a little bit out of reach."
Posted by vegas_girl in Vegas Baby!! on 04/17/09 at 06:13 PM
dennis leary is too honest to be president nowadays.
Posted by Patty in Ohio, USA on 04/17/09 at 09:52 PM
i agree that children should be taught that effort is necessary to succeed and that not everyone is suited to do everything. but to say we need to teach 'failure' seems wrong. i also agree with the idea that we have pushed self esteem to hard, and responsibility and the understanding that we don't always get everything we want not nearly enough. unfortunately, if we don't turn that train around a whole lot of our kids are going to learn about failure firsthand.
Posted by Patty in Ohio, USA on 04/21/09 at 10:00 PM
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