Saturday Soapbox: Taking Responsibility And Owning It

Here I am feeling all mellow and inspired from my road trip only to read about this piece of litigation lunacy.

Briefly, a Victorian student (let’s call her R) is suing her former high school in Geelong for failing to provide adequate academic support to enable her to gain entry into a prestigious law school in Sydney. In addition, R’s mother is suing the school for compensation for rent and loss of income from her fortune cookie business as a result of relocating to Sydney. R claims that she never felt adequately supported academically whilst at the school to enable her to REALLY excel. R was allegedly criticised for using words that were too long in her essays which lead to R losing confidence in her essay writing abilities. This loss reportedly caused R to become “quite distressed” when her English marks began to fall.

Created by Theodore Eadman
Law School Memes

Entry into this particular law school requires a student to effectively rank in the top 0.3% of all students in the State. Places are highly sought after and the university has produced some of Australia’s greatest jurists. However, it is by no means the only law school in Sydney and certainly not the only law school in the State.

With the greatest of respect to R, she is in denial, and no… it is not that river in Egypt.  I know what R must be thinking, this must be someone’s fault, right? There has to be someone to blame, someone has to pay because R’s life plan didn’t work out to the letter?

Somehow, somewhere along the way, we as individuals seem to have lost the art of owning the consequences of our actions. The notion that we are the masters of our own destiny seems to have been usurped by a notion that our destiny is controlled by those persons and institutions with whom we have had contact, particularly those with potentially deep pockets. These persons and institutions have somehow adopted a greater responsibility to us than we have for ourselves.

I have long been concerned about the current trend to constantly reward our children for just being. When my sons were in primary school they received merit awards for “being entertaining members of the class” and “for faultless class attendance”. Whilst they also received merit awards for good behaviour and academic achievement, I found these aforementioned “token” merits disturbing. To me there was nothing meritorious about them – they served no real purpose other than to enforce a sense of entitlement. Positive enforcement is one thing, but rewards should be reserved for achievement over and above the norm (including a person’s individual norm).

There are no guarantees in life and no guarantees to entry into law school or indeed, university. Entry is handed out on academic merit and students should not feel entitled to a place. It takes hard work, persistence and sometimes a detour or two before you get to where you want to go.  And sometimes, there is just no logical reason why a person makes it or doesn’t make it. Call it bad luck, bad timing or whatever….sometimes crap happens. Crap does not necessarily justify a legal remedy.

The case continues in August.

In the meantime, I leave you with these relevant fortune cookie sayings:

The world may be your oyster but it doesn’t mean you’ll get its pearl

Skill comes from diligence

Do not mistake temptation for opportunity

None of the secrets of success will work unless you do

And remember, dear readers ….this blog has a protective coating.

Have there been any court cases that have left you scratching your head?