I’m not sure when this happened, but elementary schools are loading
children up with intense performance anxiety creating kids so stressed out their brain is being wired with very bad chemicals, specifically cortisol. I thought this push to succeed logic typically came from home, and it often does, but I didn’t
consider the schools themselves were part of this horrific assault to churn out
little Ronan Farrows.
By that I mean, 12-year old academics ^ ^ ^ on their way to
becoming Yale Law graduates by 20; somewhere become a UNICEF spokesperson and a
regular at Dufar picnics; not to mention speechwriting for various diplomats in
the Obama administration, interning at a law firm focused on foreign affairs;
followed by a Rhodes Scholarship to Oxford, all the while writing op-ed pieces
for such rags like, heh, The Atlantic, The Guardian, The Wall Street Journal, as well as a book, Pandora’s Box, no doubt during his downtime while traveling to
Afghanistan laying out peace proposals.
I’m certain I left things out, and what is he now, 25? With
his own national TV show.
I use him as an example for a number a reasons. I have no
idea how any of the above is remotely possible, logistics alone make his resume
There is no question he’s incredibly bright, witty, and cute
but I can’t connect the 15-year old Bard student to the 18-year old Yale Law
graduate while attending Oxford and feeding kids in Africa while writing a book and attempting to solve the world's most difficult problems?
"I never sit down, ever."
Did Madonna add to his avidity? Mental whisperer. ^ ^ ^
The genius bar is set so high, schools look at
this, then their pathetic national test scores and freak out. Public schools
will lose state funding if they don’t hit a certain number and private
schools will not lure in the rich folks unless they are spitting out little Ronans.
Everyone knows I am pretty lax regarding the school process and refuse
to buy into this theory—best/most expensive private pre-school, followed by
best private elementary, junior and high, equals matriculation into Yale or
Harvard, equals prestige, power and your kid will be President. Major athletic
ability and community service a must.
I’m quite the opposite.Education of course is important, but I’m not Mayim Bialik aka hover parent, in fact I
don’t even check to see if my kids do their homework. They do. Why? Because if
they don’t the school will come down hard on them. Here, they learn to take
responsibility. What a concept.
I don’t drive myself batshit taking them to dance, music,
Chinese language immersion programs, karate, gymnastics… on and on. I see other parents do this and the
pressure on this kid is undeniable. The parents are filled with competitive anxiety,
hence so is child. Be the best dammit! Judy aced that math test and is a star
soccer player! Don’t you want to go to
the Olympics! School stress is literally killing kids.
My kids find their own way. They cook, sew, dance, skate,
collect reptiles, speak Spanish, make art, covet otters and will pass the 5th
So I was amazed when my daughter, 10, got up late and had
her first panic attack. She sets her alarm at 6am everyday, so she can have a
full two hours for any homework she may have forgotten, or any projects that
need completion, then wants a little “me” time. (I might be guilty; big on me
Alarm didn’t go off:
Audrey shaking with panic: “Oh my god! Mom!” She starts
crying. “I have so much to do. I can’t do it now. I saved a piece of homework,
have to finish a painting, start a story, and study for a test. Oh god. Oh no!”Also she hates being late for school, by this
I mean she arrives half an hour early. Just in case.
I always thought she just had a little OCD. I do too. A bit. I have writing OCD. As in I never
stop once I start. It’s weird. I used to have dictionary OCD. I carried one
with me and read a page everyday until I memorized every single word. And yes I
won all the spelling B’s.
This is not a boast, it’s a curse, and not so fun. Started early.
She goes on: “It’s totally over. I’m now going to flunk 5th
grade, never get in a good Junior High or High School, or College. I won’t get
a job.Maybe a fast food but I’m not a
minority so I’ll be homeless! Oh my god!!”
I thought she was joking but tears were pouring down her
face, she was still shaking and sweaty,her heart banging around in her tiny body.
“Honey, you are a minority. You’re a girl.”
More tears. Never joke with your kids when they’re upset. I
know this. But sometimes mess up.
I comfort her, calm her down, tell her she’s made this too global,
she’s smart, she will get in good schools, she will never be homeless, she will
follow her heart and achieve her dreams.
But I also learned she’s getting this anxiety from school!
Not just the kids who are trained to think this way by their over zealous parents but
by the school itself. Not even subliminally, but direct. “If you don’t study
and do well, you’ll flunk this test and never move forward. Who wants to work
at McDonalds?” WTF! That is right out of a bad sitcom.
I am not a fan of standardized testing; it’s horse shit. All
the kids are treated the same. Drill and
kill. You can’t test critical thinking, artistic ability, leadership, courage, empathy, etc. Not to mention testing has not improved student achievement.
Now, daily, I talk to my kids, to depressurize them, they
don’t have to be RONAN FARROW! They don’t even want a talk show. They hate public attention.
I would home school but I have a life, and this is my only
one. So instead, I deflate this educational balloon fantasy and let them feel
okay about missed assignments, not getting perfect grades, because they are
doing their best.
If kids were to stay on this harried track, which has
tripled in intensity since my son was in school, they would have a nervous
breakdowns before 18. Many are having them already in Junior High. They take
drugs for everything; to stay alert for testing, for doing their homework, drugs
for social anxiety, drugs to go to sleep.
I know a mother that put her kid on Ritalin for his
homework, then again for any testing. He was scheduled for some activity every
hour until bedtime. His parents would
not accept anything but perfection. He hanged himself at age 13.
I’d rather my kids paint unicorns on canvas, sew purple, fringy dresses, skate with Derby Dolls, bake weird shrimp dinners, play sidewalk airplane and get passing grades.
They are happy. Stress free. Gravitating toward their own passions, embracing their own individuality. That is the main thing. Honestly, I’d rather have them against the "norm," happy and relaxed living
in a cardboard box than the alternative.
Rhonda Talbot weighing in on contemporary school systems.
1) The Departed - Martin Scorsese
While Wai-keaung Lau Internal Affairs was considered a
masterpiece, Scorsese fine-tunes by upping the stakes, and adding black humor
using a script by William Monaghan. By adding a layer of high-wire tension without
taking itself too seriously, the film is more enjoyable, a thrill ride. And who
can forget the exceptional cast? The film went on to win an Oscar for best
2) True Grit — Coen Brothers
There will always be people who will forever love the John
Wayne original and even think it blasphemy to have remade this. Yet the Coen
brothers made “Rooster” more human. He was tortured and crass, made obvious by
his alcoholism, but of course an expert with a gun.Jeff Bridges outshines in this role, with a
great supporting cast.
3) Ocean’s Eleven — Steven Soderbergh
It would take a master director to compete with the Rat Pack
original by Lewis Milestone and that’s exactly what happened. While the same
story, Ted Griffin’s script is much smarter and makes use of the technology now
available. Soderbergh delivers a funny,
slick, entertaining and sexy movie with the some of the most watchable actors
Hollywood has to offer. It stands on it’s own.
4) Maltese Falcon — John Huston
Many filmgoers are not aware that this Dashiell Hammett
novel has been made twice before. But Huston’s version is so well done no one
questions the projects origins. Huston’s film is sexier, darker, wittier and
more courageous than the previous. Though we lose Bette Davis, we gain Humphrey
5) Airplane — Jerry and David Zucker
Based on an actual plane-in-trouble thriller from 1957 called
Zero Hour the filmmakers and cast have enormous fun in sending up every
possible scene. Leslie Neilson has a comedic field day as Dr. Rumack from the original. It’s great fun to watch them side-by-side.
6) The Thing — John Carpenter
John Carpenter swaps out the fear of Communism for Aids,
without losing the intended paranoia that wreaks havoc with a small band of
scientists. Using an amazing cast, he weaves through this bone-chilling and
insidious thriller, by far eclipsing the original with a horrifying and
7) Little Shop of Horrors — Frank Oz
Though the original gave us Jack Nicholson, this remake is
completely demented, in a good way. With all of its dark humor, quirks and fun
cameos, this is a quite an enjoyable film, even if you didn’t like the play.
It’s worth a view if just for Steve Martin's deranged dentist.
8) Fatal Attraction —
Again, not well known, but this was based on a British TV thriller
called Diversion. Lyne takes the material and delivers one of the scariest,
cautionary tales of all time.
9) Insomnia —
Nolan remade this Scandinavian thriller adding a layer of
film noir, and an impressionable cast that alters the texture of the original.
While the original is excellent, this remake infuses it with a higher realm of
excitement. By setting the film in Alaska, the movie is incredibly
claustrophobic adding to the overall tension.
10) 3:10 to Yuma — James
While Delmer Davis delivered a strong Western for the time,
Mangold, with the help of a tight script, stunning visuals and dead-on casting
recreated a story that now remains one of the best Westerns ever made. His
direction never lets up and completely blew the lid off the original.
Rhonda Talbot weighing in on film remakes. Sometimes they are better than the original.
I first heard the platitudinous quote: "The definition of insanity
is to repeat the same action over and over and expecting different results," in a 12-step
program, decades ago. The quote is commonly used in recovery literature, daily
jargon and is even a wall slogan. Or a T-shirt.
For addicts this makes sense, that is, if they keep repeating addictive
behavior, nothing much will change, and further using could lead to a form of insanity.Maybe in the early days of recovery, the phrase was attributed to Einstein so it would carry some weight. Who knows?
But there is no proof.Having been raised on Einstein and later wrote/published a piece on him, he never talked about the human
condition in this manner.He did say: ”
We cannot solve our problems by the same thinking we used to create them.”
Thinks people are silly ^ ^ ^ ^
The phrase has also been attributed to Benjamin Franklin, though,
again without a shred of proof.
Probably more reasonable would be Rita Mae Brown who used it
in her novel Sudden Death. But again no proof Ms. Brown came up with the phrase, though she remains the only verifiable source. She also said: "Good judgement comes from experience and experience comes from bad judgement." I do like her style.
When you strip the words down, what ought to be divined is, “If at first you don’t succeed, try and try again,” a quote by British writer William Hickson, mid 1800’s. Hopefully in a different way, with a different
twist. Otherwise we would all still be squatting in caves without fire. I digress.
The actual definition of insanity is: mental illness of such a severe nature that a person cannot distinguish fantasy from reality, cannot conduct his/her affairs due to psychosis, or is subject to uncontrollable impulsive behavior.
The term is primarily used in legal context to distinguish guilt from innocence. There is no insane diagnosis listed in the DSM.
I actually never bought into this cliched concept of “insanity” and
find it incredibly annoying that people continue to perpetuate its use like
it’s the gospel truth. Maybe it makes a kind of sense when it comes to golf.
I will also never understand these golf people. Not only do they keep hitting the ball the same way and wrong, but then they bang their head over and over. Why is this fun?
People that repeat the same action over and over expecting different
results are just stuck, ignorant, confused, stubborn or maybe unwilling to try
another way, perhaps without another form of guidance. But insane? Highly unlikely.
Having witnessed people diagnosed “insane” say, the woman
who lit her children on fire fully expecting them to burn, or the guy that believes
all women are “whores” so sets out to ritualistically torture and kill them. They had a plan and succeeded. Not a lot of repetition involved.They got exactly the
result they were looking for. All the the crazies that kill out of blind rage? These were one time situations. Anyway, you get the
idea. The examples are endless.
To hear someway say: “Oh, there I go again, trying to get a
parking spot by circling the lot… repeating the same behavior… must be intellectually
insane!” Or the guy at a bar, “I keep using the same line on women but none of
it’s working, I must be Einstein insane.”
Now we see this phrase used ad nauseam by journalists,
politicians, bloggers, writers, op-ed pieces, Tweeters, skywriters.
I don't even know who Daniel Clowes is but this keeps showing up. So is it sky-tweeting?? Why couldn't Shia Labeouf just text him like normal people?
The "insanity" quote is used so much you’d think by now just by sheer repetition people might give pause toputting further credence in the stale artifact. One
would think if someone says it over and over and over and reads it over and
over and over, it might lose its impact.
Yet, quite the contrary. I seem to read the phrase everyday
no matter what the context. Now with social media, it keeps popping up on
social platforms like a Wack-a-mole shortcut trying to explain the complex antics
from Congress to the mundane acts ofJustin Bieber.
Maybe there is only one place for this over worn, tired and
misguided phrase to go.
By people reading it over and over and writing it over
and over, it will drive collective readers insane, then someone can coin that phrase
and it will finally have some relevance.
Breaking: "People who believe the ancient insanity quote prove to be insane."
Rhonda Talbot weighing in on the definition of insanity.