If there is only one The One – it ain’t you. The myth – and the menace – of the idea of the ‘ideal man.’

Bad news, kids. If there is only one The One – it ain’t you.

Photo by: Tommy Wong

When you search for a new home to live in, you think you’re looking to select The One, the winner, the answer to all your hopes, dreams wishes and prayers.

This is not so. What you’re actually doing is eliminating all the rejects, ultimately selecting the home that is least objectionable to you. You’re questing not for Prince Charming but for Prince Adequate or Prince Acceptable.

Same for an Olympic swim team or a job search: You can only live in one house, hire one CFO or add one anchor leg to your relay team. So you shop, you compare, you filter, you sift, you sort and ultimately you settle, hoping that you have not made a costly error.

If you did that with your dairy farm, in short order your ‘herd’ would consist of one prize heifer and nothing else.

That’s the essence of Flowerboxing – the quest for The One – and it illuminates the error of elitism in education: There are seven billion of us, and we’re ALL perfect. Neglecting the cultivation of the overwhelming majority of children in order to shop obsessively for only the most-thoroughly-indoctrinated specimens is to ladle repeated tragedy upon perpetual catastrophe.

Because the C/I model of education is so thoroughly broken, the ‘elite’ it selects is composed of very broken people – Ci/INTJs who have been worked so brutally hard that they have drastically diminished reserves of human compassion. But any other ‘elite’ model would also fail. Why? Because there is no elite, there are just individual people who are better or worse at particular things – and who step up or run away at unpredictable intervals.

The idea of the ‘ideal man’ – whether that’s Jesus, Mohammed or Howard Roark – frustrates more ideals than it inspires. Whatever their virtues or faults, each of those guys was a rare bird. Holding them up as role models might (or might not) be a good idea. Representing them as perfect-performance models is absurd, insane and enormously destructive.

Why? For the same reason it would be insane to slaughter every cow except your ‘ideal’ specimen.

If you tell children that only Olympians can really swim, if you criticize and mock every tiny mistake, if you don’t even deign to notice anything except seemingly-effortless virtuosity – children will listen, and learn, and in due course stop trying.

If there is only one The One, it almost certainly is not you. That’s a pretty big fact to overlook. And if you look into any classroom, you can see that fact languishing in virtually every chair. Kindergartners love school. Everyone else hates it. They know it’s not for them.

I know how to do better than this – lots better. You’re going to help.

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