I spent about fifteen minutes earlier this evening watching clips of Big Brother on YouTube. It's about all I could stand. "Can Janelle and Erika succeed in getting Will to take a shower with them?" Puh-leeze....
But it makes me think. Years ago, I was doing research in a high school with 47 teachers. They also hosted eight to ten student teachers a year from the nearby state college's education department. One day, I was having a conversation with the college's student-teacher coordinator, and she asked me, "How many really good teachers do you think there are at this school?" By that time, I'd been in every classroom, many more than once, so I said, "If I were starting my own school tomorrow, I'd take..." and then I started counting on my fingers "...six, I think." She replied, "That's not bad. Usually, it's around ten percent."
I have a feeling that the ten-percent rule is true for almost every industry. We have three hundred cable channels on, but there are only a handful of good actors, so the rest of the space gets filled up with Big Brother and Monster Garage and ElimiDate. We have a handful of good films, so most of the summer is filled with Steven Segal and Adam Sandler. There are only a few remarkable songwriters, but there's a huge need for product, so we get N'Sync and Kenny G. When I go to academic conferences, there are a few sessions that are outstanding and engaging, and dozens that are dull and carelessly organized.
You can probably guess where I'm going with this... :-)
Our work this semester is going to be aimed at a statement of belief that each of you will create, beliefs about your aspirations and goals and what constitutes good work, with some research to back it up. As we move forward, I want you to take seriously the notion that 90% of architects aren't very good (just as 90% of professional television actors aren't very good, and 90% of professional baseball players are in the minor leagues or play for the Royals...). And I want you to define for yourselves what you need to do to be one of the ten percent -- not merely successful, but good. Training and talent and hard work are not enough. What is?