Monday, November 08, 2010

Why rejection is good for you

This is of course completely contrary to the "no child must fail" gospel of most Leftist educators. I certainly had a lot of my academic journal articles rejected during my research career but I would simply revise them if I could see something reasonable in the referee comments and either way just send the articles on to another journal. In the end about 90% of them did get into print. I gather that many academics are so demoralized by a rejection that they never resubmit their writings. Very foolish -- JR

Last week, Anna Wintour, editor of U.S. Vogue, made a startling ­admission. Talking to a group of young, aspiring ­fashion writers at a ­conference in New York, the most powerful woman in the magazine world revealed she was once sacked by Harper’s Bazaar.

What’s more, she said it was one of the best things that had ever happened to her. ‘I worked for American Harper’s Bazaar .... they fired me. I recommend that you all get fired, it’s a great learning experience,’ she said.

It was a surprising confession from the notoriously frosty editor — and a heart­ening piece of career advice to hear at a time when many people are losing their jobs. The quote was picked up on websites and papers around the world, with people adding their own examples of famous ­people who had done well despite, or often because of, early rejection.

J. K. Rowling wrote Harry Potter after being sacked as a secretary for ­‘day­dreaming’. She then got rejected by not one, not two, but 12 publishers before the chairman of Bloomsbury brought home the Potter manuscript for his ­daughter Alice to read.

Madonna started her musical career after being sacked from Dunkin’ Donuts for squirting sauce at customers. Her first band, The Breakfast Club, was dropped by their record label, so she decided to go solo. The rest, as they say, is history.

Almost every record label in the country turned down The Beatles; Walt Disney was fired because he lacked imagination — the list goes on.

It seems that sometimes being rejected is the best thing that can happen to you in life, a phenomenon that is being dubbed the Power of No. ‘Rejection can concentrate the mind wonderfully,’ says psychotherapist Phillip Hodson, from the British Association for Counselling and Psychotherapy. ‘It shows you that the world can’t be taken for granted and that you have to fight for what you want. ‘It can make you more determined to prove your abilities, it sharpens your ­competitiveness and gives you an ­incentive to prove people wrong.’

And not only does rejection help you learn a lesson and quicken your resolve, it’s a sign that you are living life to the full and pushing ­yourself, according to a new game taking the U.S. by storm.

Rejection Therapy was created by Jason Comely to overcome the social anxiety that kept him from having the relationships and success he craved. He challenged himself to spend a year trying to be rejected by someone every single day and as part of the game smiled at strangers, asked women out on dates and arranged work meetings — things he would have been too scared to do before.

After a year, Jason concluded it was harder to be rejected than he expected and that if he hadn’t played the game he would have missed out on countless opportunities to meet new people and expand his life. His therapy card game has become the latest self-help hit in the U.S., encouraging people to open themselves up to possible rejection.

The cards suggest things such as requesting a discount when you buy something, asking for a pay rise or approaching someone to ask if you can join their table in a restaurant. Your day is not successful unless ­someone has rejected you, either by not smiling back or by saying ‘No’.

In her new book Switched On, Sahar Hashemi, the woman who started ­the Coffee Republic chain, agrees with Jason’s philosophy. She argues being rejected is just part and parcel of life and that we have to stop fearing it in order to live up to our potential.

‘I’ve written about notching up the “Nos”, which is the idea that in life you need to expect rejection,’ she says. ‘When we tried to start up Coffee Republic, we were turned down by 19 bank managers. I was told we were a nation of tea drinkers and no one was going to want to spend more than 60p for a cup of coffee or use silly names such as skinny lattes.

‘It was demoralising and there were times I wanted to jump out of the window, but I became more determined. I was brought up to believe that persistence was the key to success and that nothing worth having comes easily.

‘I also received nine rejections from book publishers before I got a deal. The trick is to see rejection as not a big thing, to get used to it, to expect it. It’s vital to ­realise it is par for the course. It simply ­represents one person’s opinion.’

So if rejection is just part of life and can do us good, why does it hurt so much? ‘Rejection can hurt more than the event itself ever justifies, because it brings back all past rejections and makes us feel ­abandoned and ­useless,’ says Phillip Hodson.

‘So when your boss says you’re superfluous to requirements, what you hear is: “You’re useless and nobody will ever want you.” But while rejection at work can hurt, nothing can compare to the physical pain of personal rejection. How can being dumped or ignored at a party be good for us?

Psychotherapist and relationship expert Christine Webber, author of Too Young To Get Old, says: ‘Being rejected on a ­personal level is one of the worst pains people can go through. ‘We all want to be loved and when ­someone withdraws that love you can feel bereft; it is like a bereavement and you go into shock. ‘As hard as it is to believe at the time, you do get over it — and often are stronger for it. A lot of people triumph after a break-up and go on to be much happier.’

What’s more, being rejected is often not as bad as you think and it takes away the fear of future rejection. And no matter how much it hurts, rejection is better than the alternative, which is to try to live ­without putting yourself out there.

‘Fear of rejection is often a person’s number one anxiety, so much so that some people try to guarantee it won’t ever ­happen to them,’ adds Christine. ‘People might try to avoid relationships or professional challenges entirely. This is a solution of a kind, but does tend to lead to an isolated life. Interactions in life are what most people live for.’

‘Rejection can be a sign that there are lessons to be learnt,’ says Phillip. ‘You have to ask why you are being rejected and look honestly at how you can make yourself more attractive to other people. ‘If you’re talking to people at parties about the pain in your leg, you’re going to get rejected.’

Likewise, if you keep getting turned down for jobs, ask yourself if there’s something better you could be doing in your ­interviews, such as the way you dress — but then ask the bigger question of whether you are going for the right kind of job. If the answer is still yes, then keep persevering. If not, try something new.

Before starting her business, Sahar Hashemi was a lawyer who was constantly turned down for jobs. ‘I lost count of how many ­interviews I went to for a job as an in-house lawyer. I kept getting turned down and couldn’t understand why. Now I ­realise it was because I was wholly unsuited to the job,’ she laughs.

And if she had got one of those law jobs, she could well be in a nine-to-five career instead of having built a company with a turnover of £30 million a year. ‘The worst thing you can do is to be too scared to put your head above the parapet and go for what you want,’ she says. ‘That is more depressing than any rejection could ever be.’


Academic progress stagnant despite more teacher hires

Another example of more expenditure not working. It is more realistic education policies that are needed -- e.g. more phonics, more discipline

Nearly 1,000 full-time teaching positions were added at Iowa's public schools during a five-year period when improving students' academic skills was heavily emphasized. Yet students' academic achievement saw little growth during that time, according to data from state reading and math tests and national exams such as the ACT. In addition, enrollment in Iowa's public schools fell by 9,108 students.

State data for the five-year period show increased percentages of students from poor families or with limited English-speaking skills.

Iowa education officials largely attribute the increase in the number of teachers to efforts to bolster student achievement and meet federal mandates. In addition, the state provided more than $60 million to districts for preschool, although the exact number of teachers hired is unknown.

The additional teaching positions have kept students' academic performance from slipping, Iowa educators say. "Those students need more support, so they can get caught up to and perform as well as their peers," said Kevin Fangman, interim director of the Iowa Department of Education. "At the same time, our achievement overall in the past five years has gone up. It hasn't gone up a lot, but it has gone up. And that is a positive for us as a state."

The Des Moines Register analysis looked at changes in the number of full-time and part-time teaching positions in Iowa's public school districts between the 2004-05 school year and 2009-10. Specifically, the analysis found:

• Iowa added 982 full-time teaching positions, bringing the statewide total to 34,643. Statewide, the number of full-time teachers increased 2.9 percent. At the same time, 414 part-time teaching positions were eliminated.

• Four of Iowa's fastest-growing districts - Ankeny, Johnston, Southeast Polk and Waukee - added a combined 451 full-time teaching positions to address an enrollment increase of almost 5,900 students. That amounts to one new teacher for every 13 new students.

• Five of Iowa's eight largest urban districts - Cedar Rapids, Council Bluffs, Des Moines, Sioux City and Waterloo - added a combined 256 full-time teachers. Those districts, whose total enrollments fell by 2,811 students, hired one full-time teacher for every 11 students they lost.

• Davenport was the only urban district in Iowa to cut full-time teaching positions while losing students.

• Dubuque and Iowa City, the state's other two largest districts, gained a combined 1,232 students, a 6 percent increase. In response, the districts added 194 full-time teaching positions.

• As enrollments fell in Iowa's small, rural districts, cuts in teaching positions were minimal. For example, the Seymour school district lost 104 students, or 31 percent of its enrollment, and cut three of 29 full-time teaching positions. However, those districts have less wiggle room to make reductions because they have to meet state requirements on course offerings and teacher certification.

As the number of teaching positions increased in Iowa, student achievement stayed stagnant. A quarter of Iowa's 1,427 public schools last school year fell short of federal student achievement goals on reading and math tests. In addition, a record 356 schools landed on the state's "in need of assistance" list.

The percentage of fourth-graders at grade level in state math and reading tests declined almost 1 percentage point between 2004-05 and 2009-10, while 11th-graders lost the same amount of ground in math. About 80 percent of fourth- and 11th-grade students performed at grade level. Eleventh-graders saw a slight improvement in reading, with the percentage at grade level increasing nearly 3 points to 79 percent.

Eighth-graders made gains of about 2 percentage points in reading and math. Nearly 74 percent performed at grade level in reading in 2009-10; 76 percent were at trade level in math. In addition, 30 percent of Iowa high school students who took the ACT met the benchmark scores to show they were prepared to pass college classes. The average composite score for the Class of 2010 was 22.2, down from 22.4 the previous year.

High school graduation rates were also stagnant with nearly 87.2 percent of the class of 2009 graduating; 88.8 percent from the class of 2008 graduated. "(Schools) haven't seen the kinds of improvements we had all hoped for," said Marguerite Roza, senior economic and data adviser to the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation.


Australia: Thou shall not teach humanism -- says Victorian Labor party government

EDUCATION Minister Bronwyn Pike has ducked a potential backlash from the powerful Christian lobby by rejecting a proposal to allow humanism to be taught in primary schools during time allocated for religious education.

The Humanist Society of Victoria, which wants to teach an ethics-based curriculum, is planning a legal challenge, saying that the current system indirectly discriminates against non-religious children, causing "hurt, humiliation and pain and suffering" to them when they opt out of religious education classes.

Children in two-thirds of Victorian state primary schools are taught Christian scripture by volunteers, even though the Education Act says state schools must be secular and "not promote any particular religious practice, denomination or sect".

Parents must sign forms if they want their children to be excluded from "special religious instruction" classes, 96 per cent of which teach Christianity, with the remaining 4 per cent covered by the Jewish, Buddhist and Baha'i faiths.

Children who do not attend these sessions are not allowed to be taught anything their classmates might miss out on during this time, so they are often put in another room where they read or play on computers.

The Education Act has a special exemption from its secular roots to allow religious education.

But Ms Pike skewered an attempt last year by the Humanist Society of Victoria to have its "humanist applied ethics" curriculum approved for teaching during the religion period. The course, designed to be taught from prep to year 6, covered subjects such as the art of living, the environment, philosophy, science and world citizenship.

Ms Pike declared that humanism's "world-view philosophy [sic] cannot be defined as a religion", and that the Humanist Society was "not registered as a religious organisation" and therefore could not "provide instruction in government schools". There is, however, no official registration of religions in Australia.

The man responsible for accrediting non-Christian religious teachers, RMIT professor Desmond Cahill, head of the World Conference of Religions for Peace, said, "We'd consider humanism as a religion since it has an ethical standpoint."

Ms Pike refused to answer The Sunday Age's questions about whether she had been targeted by the Christian lobby.

The Greens candidate in Ms Pike's threatened seat of Melbourne, Brian Walters, told The Sunday Age governments should not use their power to "privilege or promote any one religion or non-religion in our schools" and said children should not be segregated on the basis of faith.

The Humanist Society of Victoria has obtained legal advice that children who are excluded from scripture classes are being indirectly discriminated against.

Religious education arguably breaches equal opportunity law, the advice says, and causes "hurt, humiliation and pain and suffering" to children who opt out as they are "isolated from the rest of the class … with little to do". It suggests aggrieved parents take action in the Victorian Equal Opportunity and Human Rights Commission and possibly VCAT.

Humanist Society of Victoria president Stephen Stuart said the society was collecting testimony from parents in an attempt to mount a "convincing class action with hundreds of names".


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