Monday, June 29, 2009


Today, the unique thing about my day was the homework I had to do. We read articles from the reading packing that we had to buy for the class and I thought it was all very interesting. We had to read two articles; one about cheating and one about consumerism and creativity. Here are my thoughts.

“’What Horace Mann programs you to think is that your purpose in life is getting into an Ivy League school,’ says another former student, who graduated from the school a few years back

It was easy for me to relate to the stories of these kids who faced pressure like no other in their high schools. I don’t come from a rich family and I don’t go to a fancy private school but I do face pressure as these students do. They talk about how they feel the need to cheat, whether it is because they feel like they have to level the playing field or because they feel like they need to get good grades. I face similar pressures and temptations.

In our school, it is not hard to succeed. El Cerrito is not a great school and it comes from a poor school district, meaning that the kids in that school do not care and do not strive to succeed. The competition to do well is not as cutthroat as the competition in these private schools. However, the pressure to get A’s on tests and in the class is very similar. Because it’s not a very good school, I have to succeed or else it must mean I’m worth less than everyone else that does well in harder schools. This is the train of thought that I usually follow during the school year, but now that I think about it closely, that’s not true.

I try hard, I work hard, I strive hard. My effort is worth everyone else’s and I didn’t cheat to get where I am today. That makes me worth it, according to the moral ethics that should be in place today. However... the article is right. People have unfair advantages; people do things to get ahead and usually, it works. Usually, these people get away with it and they get further in life, according to our materialistic ideals. What does this say of our society? What does that mean for those that can’t afford advantages or don’t feel right about cutting corners? What does that mean for humanity? Where is our morality?

“It’s not in the marketers’ best interest for consumers to think too much, too well, or too critically about their products.”

After reading this second article about consumerism and creativity, I thought about the quality of life in the children today. When I was a child, not so long ago, I feel like society was just shifting between good old generalized legos and sets of legos with instructions. I worry about the future generations.

However, this correlates with the other article. If the younger generations now are losing the ability to be creative because of toys available to them and if they’re feeling the pressure now to have the new toys then what does that mean for their future? Won’t they continue in their search for the newest “toys”? Won’t that search for materialistic satisfaction follow them into their adult life? If it does, this will fuel the temptation to cheat and get ahead in life. It makes sense because they feel like they have to do what they have to do in order to get what they need to be satisfied. It’s a cycle; once they get what they need to be satisfied, they’ll get tired of it and they’ll be in the search for the next new thing they need to be satisfied. Once again, people will try to cheat and get a head of the game so that they can feel satisfied again by getting the new object of their desire. Advertisers must be making it big, even in the economy we have today.

I've thought about a lot tonight because of these readings. These are the types of things we learn about in psychology.

Good night.


Charles Tillman Ramsey said...

No good morning, I hope that your class today is just as powerful as you related in your post.

I am glad that you contrasted El Cerrito High School with the experience that others face from a powerful and prominent school. As a matter of fact, you may have some students from those schools with you at Brown during the Summer at Brown program. What I want to remind you is that those in those schools may complain about stress and they do have it, but they also have a SAFETY NET, that gives them more chances and allows them to make mistakes.

Our students need to understand that the margain of error for us is slim and that we must remain focused if we are going to be on that level. It is sad that this exists, but that is life and as you get older you will see life disparities and be shocked.

Well now is the time to get over the shock. Do not be fooled by the impression that those who cheat feel bad. They feel the need to survive and they will do whatever it takes. One day you need to look at the history of segregation and see the rules and laws that were created to ensure that those who cheated got off like bandits.

Now you are being exposed to all that ills the world and seeing first hand how to address it in your life. Ms. Kronenberg always talks about Karma and I agree with her. She, as well as I, feel it is better to have the highest of integrity and not worry about the consequences. That if you are doing the right things and have the RIGHT MOTIVES, that everything will turn out well. Now this may sound naive, but we believe that it has served us well.

No one believed that the Ivy League Connection would have this type of impact and that it would fail after one year. Well we believed in ourselves and we believed that our positive karma would matter, well it has and I am happy to now read your marvelous and well constructed posts.

Enjoy your day.

Charles T. Ramsey, Esq.
School Board Member
West Contra Costa
Unified School District

Don Gosney said...


I don't know any mafia hit men personally but I've seen enough movies and read enough books about them. One thing you hear/read often is that the first time they kill it's kind of tough on them. The second time it becomes a little easier and after a while it doesn't bother them at all.

The point being that with some of these 'cheaters' maybe there's some guilt or remorse in the beginning but after a while, and interviews bear this out, not only is there no remorse but in their own minds they can even justify the cheating.

What does that say about where we're going? And how we can break the cycle so people think that cheating is wrong?

What's the world coming to when kids need instructions with Legos? The next thing you know they'll be issuing instructional DVDs with sticks, balls and rubber bands in case the kids are too goofy to figure out even basic toys.

I can understand user guides with my new copy of Photoshop or maybe with my new car but with Legos? You're killing me, Cynthia, just killing me.