Chasing 42

Life, the Universe, & Running

Daily Chase: Vol. 48

Has your race schedule begun yet? Have you been contemplating adding a few more events to your calendar? Are you thinking about tackling a new distance you’ve never raced before? What sorts of challenges do you have in store for yourself this summer? These are all great questions to ask, and I’ve been asking them of myself lately. Now that we’ve been in Delaware for a full year, I’m truly beginning to appreciate the running opportunities around me. I’ve thought a lot about just how much I’ve learned about myself, running, and life in the last year, and I’m truly grateful for the experience. The epicurean and I took a bit of a gamble when we left a comfortable life in Iowa, and although I certainly still miss our friends dearly, the gamble seems to be paying off and paving the way for a happy future together. So, how will you be challenging yourself? Keep #chasing42!

Chasing42 Log: 20160517-20160525

Run: After the Dirty German 50, I figured I should probably let my body truly recover a bit. I’ve been hitting the mileage pretty hard this year, and haven’t always been the best about recovery. Thus, my mileage over the past week plus has been lower, and at a more comfortable pace. I’ve kept my #runstreak going with a few days of running around the block tossed in, and have had a bit more flexibility in my schedule with the end of the semester last week. I’ve been hard at work reading and grading student papers, however, so taking a break to head outside for some miles has been a nice break from the work. I was able to hit the local trails with the group this past weekend as well, which was a wonderfully rejuvenating treat, and the rain actually held off just long enough for me to stay mostly dry along the way!

Three weeks of consistent rain has Brandywine Creek flowing vigorously!

Three weeks of consistent rain has Brandywine Creek flowing vigorously!

Thought: Participation ribbons and grade inflation. These two seemingly disparate concepts are more and more becoming intertwined in my mind. I’ve long bemoaned the current societal norms that celebrate participation while downplaying overall achievement for fear of hurting a child’s feelings. Commercials and editorials have echoed this belief as more and more school activities have stopped keeping score and started handing out “awards” to everyone. The current generation of college students are perhaps one of the first cohorts of young people to have fully grown up with this mentality. Parents and other guardians have invested immense amounts of time shielding young people from failure, and taking an overly involved interest in every aspect of their lives. Helicopter parents have become the norm as parents no longer encourage good work but ensure it, whether that be by confronting teachers or simply doing the work for their kids to make sure they get the grades that will guarantee entrance into a top-tier college. College, you see, is simply a ticket necessary for entry into the mythical middle-class. Now, I’m certainly not saying that a college education isn’t a valuable experience. I’ve spent my entire adult life dedicated to higher education so I am clearly committed to the work. However, I can’t help but feel that it continues to be less about learning, and more about the grade.

Grade inflation is not a new phenomenon and has been documented for many years. However, what might have started at the collegiate level has slowly trickled down into the K-12 system, further exacerbating the discrepancies in educational access that exist around the country. The result is a group of college students who expect hard work to automatically mean getting an A. We’ve invested so much time indoctrinating young people in the myth of meritocracy that they often believe that if they work hard, they’ll receive an A in any course. Now, this is certainly the case sometimes and you shouldn’t be able to receive a high mark without working hard (if you do, the instructor most likely failed in some way). However, the reality that sometimes hard work doesn’t result in an A (or a ribbon or a trophy) has been lost. The fact remains that not everyone’s hard work is of the same caliber, and sometimes working hard just isn’t enough. I can train harder this summer than I’ve ever trained in my life, but I’m probably not going to qualify for the Olympic Trials in the marathon. That doesn’t mean that I can’t be proud of the work I did, but it might mean I simply need to adjust my goals a bit. In a higher education culture where nothing but grades matter, participation ribbons and grade inflation may very well have irrevocably harmed today’s students. They simply don’t have a grasp on #chasing42 anymore. Thus, my job as an educator is not simply to deliver content and discuss concepts, but also to help students question why they are in the classroom in the first place, establish realistic goals, and celebrate their accomplishments. This is the same job I have as a coach, a runner, a partner, and a friend. All of these pieces of our life are connected, and we shouldn’t need a ribbon to prove our worth…unless, of course, you come in first 🙂

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One thought on “Daily Chase: Vol. 48

  1. Kori on said:

    I like my medals. The ones for winning and the ones for participating. My niece thinks I am a champion and I am completely happy woth that illusion. The rest of your points. Well, I dont comment on. But my medals remind me of the friends I was with, the events I have done and the things that were accomplishments even if only to me.

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