The latest from the safe spaces of American schools is the abandonment of the valedictorian. Why? Competition is bad — or so they say.
One of Glenn’s favorite movies lines comes from Dan Aykroyd in the original Ghostbusters: “You don’t know what it’s like out in the private sector: They expect results.”
“This whole idea that I don’t have any responsibility to be my best self, that I don’t have any responsibility to compete in life . . . how do you think we got the lightbulb? That was a literal competition between people in France, people in the United States, Edison, Tesla. I mean, people were competing to be the first one to bring a lightbulb. What do you think Tesla is all about? Being the first to go to Mars. What do you think Apple is all about?”
If you want something bad enough — like being the valedictorian or getting first place in the science project — what does it take? What if you fail and don’t succeed? Will that make you better? Will competition make you try harder to succeed?
“I’ve learned much more from my failings than I ever have from my successes. Because my successes don’t make me question anything,” Glenn said Monday on radio. “I don’t know what actually caused my success here or there. I can speculate, but I haven’t had to go like, ‘Oh crap, honey, I don’t know why we’re successful. How did we succeed? Where did we go right?’ I haven’t done any of that. Every time I have a failure, I am going, ‘Where did we go wrong?’
Success teaches very little.
“Failure teaches almost everything important — if you choose to view it that way,” Glenn said.
Listen to this segment from The Glenn Beck Program:
This is a rush transcript and may contain errors.
GLENN: Hello, America. According to the National Association of Secondary School Principals, nearly half of all high schools in the United States no longer report any class rank.
GLENN: This is according to the Associated Press. The graduation tradition of naming a senior class valedictorian is slowly fading into history. In areas where the tradition continues, more students are being named at the head of the class. Helena, Montana.
PAT: Wait. Twenty-five. Twenty-five valedictorians.
GLENN: How many people are in the Helena, Montana —
PAT: Well, in the graduating class — in my class, there was 460 or something. So it’s probably fairly sizeable.
GLENN: So here’s — listen to this: The reason is because administrators are recently concerned about, quote, unhealthy competition.
PAT: This is so ridiculous.
GLENN: And students feeling pressure to perform better than their peers.
I know. Because in real life, that never happens.
PAT: Never happens. You don’t have to compete with anybody for anything.
GLENN: No. Uh-uh. Everything is just handed — you know one of my favorite lines from Ghostbusters, the original Ghostbusters — do you know what — Jeffy.
JEFFY: Yeah, the Bill Murray line, where he talks about they make you work out there, right?
GLENN: No, it’s Dan Aykroyd. Dan Aykroyd looks at him and says, “You don’t know what this means. Yeah, you don’t know what it’s like out in the private sector: They expect results.”
JEFFY: They expect results. Yeah.
PAT: Did you see this — the Tennessee school, a magnate school in Tennessee awarded 48 valedictorians this year, 25 percent of the graduating class. (laughter)
GLENN: High school in Columbia, Maryland, ranked the students but kept the results private to each student. Of course, the students couldn’t keep quiet where they landed. Two seniors from Hammond High School said that’s what everybody talked about.
GLENN: It makes everything ten times more competitive. Some parents — some parents don’t like the competition, saying students place too much emphasis on rankings and it can lead to negative perceptions of themselves.
PAT: Oh, no. Oh, my gosh.
GLENN: Can I tell you something, you know what leads to negative perceptions of yourself? Living under a bridge. That one — that, you will be like, I’m a homeless person.
No, no, no. You’re not. No, you’re not.
You are a person who has connected with the outdoors. Oh, I feel so much better now.
I’m a homeless person. Yes, because mommy and daddy never taught you about competition. Competition is good. Competition — you know, this is why I really like cross country training, is competition is be the —
GLENN: I know. That’s why I’m so thin. Competition is about being better yourself. Can you better what you just did? Better your time?
That’s — that’s — I mean, yes, is there going to be a winner? Yes. But are you better?
Can you beat your own personal time? Can you be better? Yes.
This — this whole idea that I don’t have any responsibility to be my best self, that I don’t have any responsibility to compete in life — how do you think we got the lightbulb?
That was — that was a literal competition between people in France, people in the United States, Edison, Tesla. I mean, people were competing to be the first one to bring a lightbulb. What do you think Tesla is all about? Being the first to go to Mars.
What do you think — you know, what do you think Apple is all about?
PAT: Competing against Google and Microsoft and everybody else. Plus, the competition within the company itself, there’s going to be a ton of competition.
GLENN: No, there’s not.
PAT: Oh, they’ll all get participation trophies. Right.
GLENN: Yes. Everybody lives in a very big house. Nobody drives — in this particular case, it’s true. Everybody drives a Prius. But everybody has exactly the same stuff. It’s all equal outcomes. Steve Jobs, he didn’t have more money than everybody else —
PAT: No. Yeah, I think you’re going to find that’s not the case.
GLENN: No, there was no competition there. No, no competition.
PAT: Not the case.
Even as liberal as Bill Gates is, he’s got a 52,000-square-foot home. That’s a little bit bigger than most of his employees.
GLENN: No, I don’t think so. No.
STU: Are you for sure?
GLENN: No, here’s the truth. Stop listening to him.
Here’s the truth: He takes Leonardo da Vinci’s Codex, and everybody gets it over their fireplace for a month. If you work at Microsoft, everyone gets to hang Leonardo da Vinci’s Codex over their fireplace for a month.
PAT: Whether you’re the janitor, or?
JEFFY: It doesn’t matter.
GLENN: And there’s no competition for it. It’s just alphabetically assigned —
PAT: Okay. Every employee is just guaranteed to receive it?
GLENN: Yes. Guaranteed to receive it.
You hang it over your — no matter what the deal is. You can be the employee on your way out. It doesn’t matter.
PAT: Huh. Wow.
GLENN: You could be the employee that’s stealing from the company. It doesn’t matter. You get it.
Now, again, it’s alphabetically assigned, but just because that’s showing preference, they shuffle the alphabet.
PAT: Oh, that’s good.
STU: And it always lands on Gates or Jobs or whatever.
GLENN: It would be Gates. It would be Gates. Why the lies?
STU: Well, it’s interesting because you are the one that was propagating this idea that stealing is something that’s possible, indicating that you believe in ownership, private ownership of the material. There’s no such thing.
GLENN: Yeah, that was — I’m sorry. That was the old Glenn coming out.
STU: Thank you. I’m glad finally you say that — it’s funny. They don’t see competition as helpful. I mean, how do you not? I mean, look at all the benefits that have come out of it.
GLENN: Well, here’s what I think the average person doesn’t look and see as helpful.
The competition the way we have it — we used to believe in this country, that it is your personal responsibility to be your best. To make your own way. To not be a burden on others.
And that you had a — you had a blessing of getting an education. Now, it’s not that. Now, it is — especially you go to places like New York, they — the parents will shiv you for a spot in a pre-nursery school.
GLENN: Because that pre-nursery school will lead you to the right kindergarten, which will lead you to the first — the primary school and the secondary school. And you’ll be able to get into Harvard. But if you — if you drool too much in the pre-nursery school, they will tell you, “This is a sign that they’re not going to make it to Harvard, and they really need to stop drooling so much.” They’re five months old.
GLENN: I mean, that’s — that’s the unhealthy competition.
PAT: I think a lot of these parents though can’t see beyond just their feelings right now, of feeling like, “Oh, gosh, I’m not — I’m not number one in the class. So I’m worthless.” Well, they’re going to have deal with that. They’re going to have to deal with that in life. And I don’t know if they’re looking forward — they’re so short-sighted.
GLENN: But it is, again, the parents. What happened when the school said, keep this to yourself? All the kids, they know they’re competing.
GLENN: It’s natural. Who is better at this than — you can’t play sports unless it’s always a tie. And even then, you’re going to know, “When this guy gets up, he is going to slam this thing out of the park.” We all have different skills.
STU: And sports, along with, you know, valedictorian races, it’s a good, meaningless thing to teach that lesson on, right? Like, losing a sporting event in the grand scheme of your life is not that big of a deal, but it’s a great way to learn the lesson of how to react after you lose. It’s a great way to learn a lesson of how to work harder in the future.
PAT: Yes. And it’s about the — it’s about the parents spinning that the right way for the child to help them understand and deal with that. Isn’t that good parenting?
GLENN: And it’s also important to understand this. And I think this is a great stat. Just read this one a couple weeks ago.
Valedictorians are not, generally speaking, the movers and the shakers of the next generation. They generally — they’ll get good jobs. But they’re generally not the ones who are the big entrepreneurs. They’re not the big moneymakers, et cetera, et cetera. Because of this: They are taught exactly what to think. They — they — they live in this box that is structured by college and high school.
And, really, honestly, what are you learning in high school? You’re memorizing dates. You’re taught to learn skills that you will never ever use again. Not the information.
The test-taking skills. The memorization of dates and names and places. When does that come in handy?
STU: So it makes — I mean, it’s not without value, right? Like these — a lot of these people are making $100,000 a year at a good job.
GLENN: Discipline. Hard work and discipline.
STU: And they work well within the system, and there’s a lot there.
STU: But I was listening to an interview with a guy who started Five Guys, you know, the burger place.
GLENN: Yeah. Yeah.
STU: It was a financial services guy. Goes in — he decides he wants to start a burger place in New Jersey. I think it was New Jersey.
And he — or, no, Virginia. Virginia. And he starts it. And he lets his kids pick out all the ingredients. You pick the best-tasting mayonnaise. Won’t tell them anything about food costs. Won’t tell them which one is more expensive because he wants them to just pick the best one. They pick the best one. This is a ridiculous way to run a business. They go to name the business. He has four kids. He’s like, I don’t know. Let’s just call it Five Guys. We’ll change it later.
Now there’s 1500 locations. Because he decided he wanted to go — he believed in the quality of the product. He decided to work hard and do it in a different way. He wasn’t —
GLENN: So here’s — here’s an interesting phrase that I’d like to share, that kind of goes into that.
Everybody says think out of the box. You got to think out of the box. You got to think out of the box.
Yes. If that box is flawed and doesn’t provide you anything, but the same rubber stamp. But you don’t want to think out of the box — if you’re creating a business. You want to create a new box. You have to — you have to have framework — like, I can’t go into Five Guys. I know what it looks like. And say, you know what we’re going to do, we’re going to put up some fake grapes on the side here. We’ll attract those people who usually go to an Italian restaurant. And we’re going to put some of those really cheesy Chinese lamps hanging from the ceiling too because we’ll attract those.
No, they have a box. They have a box. We’re Five Guys. It looks like this. This is what we serve. The secret is, forget the box. Design your own box. And stay within your own box. But nobody is teaching that.
Everybody teaches, “Get out of the box,” which says, there are no rules. There are rules. But in today’s date, you have to find the rules that are eternal, like theft shouldn’t be part of our business model.
STU: Yes, no, it’s true. It’s true.
And every one of the interviews with one of these crazy CEOs that does something different, there are 500 stories of people who try these things and failed. But that’s the difference. That part of it is important. Many of those failures came from the same people who wound up succeeding later.
GLENN: Yes. They learned from that.
STU: You have to be able to embrace that failure.
PAT: Did that hurt their self-esteem for a while?
PAT: It might have. It might have.
GLENN: It should.
STU: It should.
PAT: But they overcame it.
STU: They overcame it. Did things different the next time.
PAT: Wow. You mean that’s possible?
GLENN: There is — I have learned much more —
PAT: It’s ridiculous.
GLENN: I’ve learned much more from my failings than I ever have from my successes. Because my successes don’t make me question anything. My successes go, dig me. Look at this. Huh? How great is that?
I don’t know what actually caused my success here or there. I can speculate, but I haven’t had to put like, oh, crap. Honey, I don’t know why we’re successful. How did we succeed? Where did we go right?
I haven’t done any of that. Every time I have a failure, I am going, “Where did we go wrong?” Success teaches you very little. Failure teaches you almost everything important, if you choose to view it that way.