The Paua Palace

My royal blog, life, opinions and me, it’s all about ME.. Right?

The problem with catering to society’s Lowest Common Denominator

Posted by pauaprincess on August 9, 2007

As a mother, I have never had much time for the Plunket Society.  While I support them and I know they do a lot of good in the country both currently and historically, I personally found them wanting. 

When the pipi princess was 8 months or so, I gave them up completely.  I’d gone in for her well child check.  I had the princeling age 5 in tow.  So I am sitting there following the weighing and measuring part of the visit and the Plunket Nurse tells me that now that the pipi princess is X age, I can begin feeding her yellow and orange foods.  Yellow and Orange foods? Ok, I am well educated, I have held positions of management in the workforce.  I have a 5 year old child standing beside me, who is obviously well fed and cared for and this woman feels a need to tell me how to move onto solids by colour of food because I’m too stupid and inexperienced to understand words like carrot, pumpkin and potato?  No it’s because they base their programs on the understanding of the lowest common denominator, nothing is altered for anyone else, they just stick to the program. 

When I told them I wouldn’t be back, they threatened to tell on me!  They said they’d ring my gp!  I told them to go right ahead because there was nothing they were offering me that I didn’t already know about and couldn’t learn from our regular doctors visits or parenting magazines, that I was hardly a first time mother and if I had any concerns I would take them to my doctor.  But once again they deal with the lowest common denominator and rang my gp who casually mentioned at my next visit that Plunket had been in touch.  When I told him why I’d decided to quit letting them waste their time and mine, he actually laughed.

School’s are becoming agents of the food Police.  Banning certain foods from being eaten on their grounds because a faction of society is overweight.  Because “some” parents send their children to school with nothing but chips and biscuits for lunch, nobody can have them.

ALL women will be questioned about family violence at Public Hospitals now because “some” women live in violent situations.

Because some parents abuse their children, ALL parents are now subject to anti smacking laws.

School qualifications are now adjusted to a “fairer” system that is completely incomprehensible to society at large and utterly lacks clarity, because “some” people find exams difficult.

Prior to changing to the NCEA system, exams were massively scaled because “some” people were too clever and “some” people were too stupid, nobody ever got a true make or pass/fail.

Children are taught to read and write using one particular method, never mind if they respond to that style of learning.

Because “some” mental health patients get through crisis and are able to function in society and live within it’s confines, all mental health patients are pushed back into society once they meet certain basic guidelines, rather than their ability to actually function in it.

The problem with catering to the lowest common denominator in society is that you risk lowering standards, you lose the ability to judge based upon individual circumstance, and you risk causing offense or rebellion.

Worse still, risk factors are missed completely. 

Professionals in health care, education etc are reduced to being box tickers and form fillers.  They no longer base opinions or make recommendations on individual circumstance or character, they ask their set questions, tick the boxes and move on.  Assessment is based upon the outcome of a flowchart, not a full and frank understanding of the person sitting in front of the professional.  What is more, standards amongst professionals slip, after all even a monkey can be trained to tick a form.  The real professionals, tired of being reduced to status of statistics gatherers, move on.  Those with a passion for their subject quickly become disenchanted with the inability to stretch and alter the frame work to suit the needs of the individuals before them.

If we want the kind of society where abuse is an oddity rather than the norm, where children take to education like ducks to water, if we want children to leave school with clear goals and an understanding of their strengths, where the mentally ill are cared for, where the problems of the age are understood.  If we hope to retain our best and brightest…

We have to stop appealing and catering to the lowest common denominator and reach higher.  We have to start looking at individuals, throw away the flowcharts, standard questions and forms. 


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