Sunday, August 24, 2008

With the Occasion of the Completion of the Olympic Games

With the completion of the Olympic Games of Beijing which coincide with the completion of our summer, we are given the chance to analyze all that we can learn and acquire from the Olympic Games of modernity so that we will be able to use the knowledge in our own race (educational and professional) in which we are preparing to run with the beginning of fall and the end of vacations.

Hundreds of thousands of athletes poured in Beijing for these 16 days where they competed for one of the 958 positions on the victor’s podium, if we calculate gold, silver and bronze as winning, or just 302 if we consider as the high distinction just the gold ones.

Let’s see what it means to have access to compete in the Olympic Games:

1. you must be an official member of some National/ Olympic Association/ Federation
2. you must already have competed and have gained distinctions in other athletic meets / events
3. you must have demonstrated special dedication to your sport
4. you must have a high enough level of competence to achieve the ‘low’ limits of performance for your sport, which limits are a lot higher than the average performance of the athlete population

that is to say that in order for an athlete to hope to be chosen to participate in the Olympic Games he/she must already have exceptional dedication and performance and follow a strict regiment of training to the level of a full time job at least. Therefore, even the most unknown athlete who comes last in the heats is already an accomplished athlete/ champion with high performances which cannot be easily acquired by their peers who can’t have a good enough performance to grant them access to the Olympics.

But all this cream of athletic potential of almost all the earth, with the exception of the 958 who are given some reinforcement for their great toil and effort which often has begun since their early childhood, not only is not reinforced for the feat they have achieved and have already achieved, but on the contrary are rejected and swept away as failures of low performance. But even these 958 athletes who are given a momentary reinforcement of a medal are lost in obscurity the moment they step off the podium and it is mathematically certain that if in the next meet something goes wrong and they do not stand out in their performance, they too will be lost in the same obscurity awaiting all the rest and nobody will actively remember their feat/ distinction that is now in the past.

Many will disagree with the above statement saying that Olympians are considered heroes in their countries and they have much monetary and other type of remuneration. But this is virtual only as the true hero, if we accept such exist, is a person that thanks to his/her status as hero is independent in his/her life (i.e. he doesn’t depend on someone else for his/her job which he/she determines him/herself) and his/her status as a hero gives his/her opinion and his/her wishes weight so that he/she will be heeded or at least taken very seriously unless strong evidence or arguments are presented to the contrary. When we say weight we mean the effectiveness with which a substantiated position and demand of an Olympian would have in being heard and followed socially and politically without, of course, needed for the Olympian to go into politics (i.e. how effective an Olympian would be if with substantiated reasoning and correct argumentation he/she demanded the change of a political person such as the minister of Athletics or the president of SEGAS federation or the president of the HOC or IOC for the improvement of the conditions of training of him/herself and his/her associates. Or how easy would it be if an Olympian demanded the change/ improvement of the methods of doping control so that the prepared food supplements and the responsibilities for the test-positives will go not to the athletes but to the manufacturers, distributors and givers of these supplements).

No Olympian can say or prove that his/her victory in the Olympic Games after so much toil, so many sacrifices and devotion secured this status and this social height, even for the time span until someone else wins the gold in his Olympic event. This means that psychologically and socially and the Olympic Games are a kind of periodical global examinations and a ranking procedure in which everyone is expendable, nobody ever secures a distinction that remains in the ages and everyone is aware that they will never truly be number one since very soon someone else will surpass them and they will not able to stop that from happening.

This fact, were we to examine it from a pedagogical perspective, would be called fully anti-educational and anti-pedagogic as a system because it is ‘rigged’ to have everyone lose at some point: no athlete will ever be able to remain a winner and even the most famous ones will eventually be forgotten.

This is a great squandering and destruction of excellent quality Human Potential which has proven that it has motivation, capacity and commitment/ devotion to do what it takes to achieve a very difficult goal. That which is shown to this Human Potential, which has proven that it is fully trainable with the proper educational methods, is that no matter how wondrous the competence, no matter how above average the performance might ever get will not be good enough to secure by society, not only a temporary ‘on probation’ acceptance but a general and irrevocable acceptance as is deserved.

Society does not actualize this Human Potential just as it doesn’t actualize the excellent Human Potential managing to succeed in inhuman academic examinations (which have parallel characteristics with the process of dealing with the athletes in the Olympic Games and afterwards) after these people comprising this Human Potential have already managed to graduate from an amazingly hard secondary level education due to the unacceptable teaching methodology employed in schools as it has been designed by the ministry of Education and the Pedagogical Institute ignoring the suggestions/objections of all the professors, students and parents for the very low quality of the curriculi and programmes.

What we ought to do, if we truly have the capacity as human to understand and actualize the immense Potential of these young people and the wealth on all levels which they would be able to offer to all of us without exception in different ways useful to society (while right now the wealth is taken by the few who need to use en masse the value of the people), civilization and prosperity, is to meet all these people who try so much to gain our acceptance and respect with our positivism/ acceptance, value and recognition of their potential. We must direct this potential towards avenues where the success of these people will be ensured, constructive and useful.

It is a shame and disgrace to have excellent young people who have worked hard to make the social group they belong to proud far more than their selves be demeaned and dragged in the mud to the point they are forced to expatriate themselves and have their value recognized by others, exactly as the case was with the pioneer in gymnastics Gold Olympian I. Melissanides, exactly as several geniuses have been chased out of the borders through inappropriate procedures of academic examinations and are admitted in universities abroad without ever returning to their country.

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