This week I had the pleasure of reporting on a septet of Marion High School seniors who earned scores of 30 or better on the ACT college entrance exam. That alone would be great news, but even better was when I heard that part of the reason for the good scores was a spirit of academic competition within that group. They were pushing one another to do better.
When a group of students — or athletes, volunteers, or workers — take over the job of motivating one another instead of relying on an authority figure, that’s when you’ve won the battle. Self- and peer-motivation counts for much more than someone saying you have to do something “or else.” I’m reminded of a quote from “Office Space” about motivation levels when somebody says you have to do something: “My only real motivation is not to be hassled.”
(This is the second consecutive editorial I thought a quote from “Office Space” was relevant to the topic. In last week’s editorial about the city administrator being given too many competing priorities, I was tempted to add a quote about having eight bosses.)
Self- and peer-motivation can be the difference between doing “enough” and excelling. That group of seniors is pursuing academic success because they see it as something to be proud of. They also recognize the tangible rewards for themselves. One plans to retake the ACT in pursuit of a score that will qualify him for a premiere scholarship that would make an enormous difference in whether he leaves college with student loan debt.
So congratulations to those students. And congratulations to their teachers, past and present, and their parents. They learned to value academic success somewhere along the way, and those are the folks they probably learned it from. That’s why it’s important to treat learning as something to be celebrated, instead of treating it as a chore.
There is one (very minor) downside I can see to all this academic success in the senior class. I’m told MHS is on pace to have nine co-valedictorians, all with perfect 4.0 grade point averages. That’s a lot of speeches to listen to.
— ADAM STEWART