One thing I remember very well from high school…..The Honor Society. I don’t remember it from being a member – I remember it more because of the snobby, “I’m smarter than you” attitude of the members in this “elite club.”
I remember being teased about my grades not being good enough, or that my average was inflated because of my grades for being in music ensembles (hello, Mark McNulty!)…here’s the thing – if not for those “fluff grades”, I might not have gotten accepted to the Ithaca College School of Music on the spot (both vocally and instrumentally….THANK YOU, Dave Unland!), and I would not have had such tremendous opportunities as a professional musician (see Cole, Natalie).
I don’t know if things have changed since 1986, but as we are now such a fractured society in terms of race, social class, gender, and just about everything else you can think of, I can’t help but think about how these seeds of division are created based on academic performance. As we now know much more about ADD and ADHD, as well as a much better understanding about different modes of learning, who’s to say that you’re a smarter human being just because of a grade point average?
Don’t get me wrong – in no way am I trying to diminish the success or careers of those who were Honor Society members….just like the jocks, the stoners, and the band geeks, we all fell into a certain group….some groups used their athletic and/or academic prowess as cause for feeling superior….I still think about that when I’m gigging, because I wouldn’t change what I’m doing as a professional musician to be a “brainiac”.
I remember seeing a bumper sticker back in the day that said “my dog just ate your honors student” …..although “my dog just shit all over your honors student” is funnier, I can only imagine the death stares I’d get from other drivers if I had that bumper sticker on my car.
To anyone who ever felt slighted or teased because of your grades – keep your chin up….WAY UP…we all have our unique gifts, and God knows we live in a world now where compassion and respect are far more important than just getting good grades.
And there’s a lot of honor in that.