Ike, Mac and Our Rose-colored Bifocals

Written by Dr. Tom Deighan, LPS Superintendent 

I have been told that hindsight is 20/20, but I think we need an expiration date on it. I can clearly see yesterday’s errors, or last month’s, and even last year’s, but too far out and my hindsight gets a little rosy. In fact, things get better and better the older I get! I can barely remember any problems I had five years ago. I did not have a care in the world twenty years ago, and the more I think about it, my childhood was darn near perfect. I visited the eye doctor last week, and he must have given me bifocals with clear lenses for today and rose-colored lenses for the past. Unfortunately, I think the problem is getting worse at younger and younger ages. I overheard two millennials the other day lamenting today’s youth. “Kids nowadays . . . too busy Snapchatting to respond to their text messages! I don’t know where this nation’s headed!”

While I cannot guarantee the nation’s youth will ever recapture the importance of texting etiquette, two of our high schools recently proved they are the best of the best. MacArthur High School’s wrestling team just captured the 2017 Dual State Wrestling Championship, and Eisenhower High School’s entire student body earned the title of 2017 Oklahoma State School of Character. I am especially impressed with these two accomplishments for very personal reasons. First, my short wrestling career ended ignominiously after my very first match, which coincidentally took place in MacArthur High School back in the day. Perhaps the shortest wrestling match in history, I remember little more than a brief flash of the Highlander gym ceiling followed by a hard thud on the mat. I spent the next few weeks writing with my left hand while my broken arm healed. I would have continued wrestling, but I moved to another school with no wrestling program before the season ended (at least that’s my story, and I am sticking to it). Character was an even bigger challenge for me as a student. I remember asking one of my high school teachers why the “F” I earned for a conduct grade should bother me. That poor woman tried her best to explain it to me, but let’s just say that I was a better wrestler. Maybe my hindsight is clearer than I thought after all; neither of these memories sound too rosy. Regardless, there is no possible way a young Deighan could have earned either of those titles.

We old folks (and those darn millennials) certainly spend a lot of time lamenting the current generation, but I think we may have forgotten what things really were like when many of us were in school. Pink clouds of nostalgia fog our memory, and that means we are rarely fair when our current crop of students excel . . . or honest with ourselves about how wonderful things used to be. The simple truth is that just about every measure available indicates that public schools are better than they were back in the day, but regardless of the facts, it is almost impossible to overcome our fuzzy memories of the good old days. We did not have a 24-hour news cycle or social media, but nowadays, virtually every incident is published somewhere in some format, so our perception can be little warped, whether we look forward or backwards. For me, that idyllic age was the 1980’s, the pinnacle of tasteful fashion and artful music for all of humankind. Delusions about our past such as this are reasons all of us need to celebrate Ike’s State School of Character’s award and Mac’s Dual State Wrestling trophy. Occasionally, we need to take off the rose-colored bifocals and admit that kids today are in many ways better than we ever were.