I got The Rejection Letters this week from both of the more selective private colleges that I applied for. Let's be honest: one I didn't care too much about, the other I was pretty disappointed. It's Pittsburgh for me, though, and that's not a shabby second best.
But, dear Lord, the letters themselves! Some of the most illuminating literature on the nature of modern educational philosophy I've read.
"I am very sorry to inform you that it is not possible to offer you admission to the Class of 2011. I wish I were writing to report a different decision, but the competition was so rigorous this year that there were many outstanding young men and women to whom we could not offer places in the class."
It goes on like this for another three paragraphs. The language and phrasing was as soft and comforting as a rejection letter can be. It's as if they were scared to hurt my poor little feelings or crush my budding ambitions or fragile self esteem. This illustrates a larger trend in education, where out of a sort of misconceived "consideration" for the students, everything is softened and couched in positive terms. Now, unrelenting harshness doesn't do anything for children, obviously, but I wonder if the opposite isn't just as damaging. School is the place to learn, but not just about history or math. We as students need to learn how to deal with the difficult situations--such as failure or bullying--that will come up in post-school life, in the (hopefully) safe environment of school. If we are never given the opportunity to cope with rejection and the possibly negative consequences of our actions while we have the support of teachers and parents, how are we supposed to deal with it when we are out on our own?