On April 25, Jefferson will hold its second independently-run Technology, Entertainment, Design (TED) event. These events encourage participants to give TED talks, 18-minute speeches. While all of that is promising, and the spreading of ideas is worthwhile, TEDx TJHSST’s theme, overachieving, is a horribly inappropriate choice for Jefferson.
Will quality, inspiring tales be told tomorrow? Absolutely. Will the vast majority of speakers incite thought and discussion? Again, it is very likely. What is out of place during tomorrow’s event? Its theme.
Jefferson has long been known as a pressure-cooker school. Students stay up through the wee hours of the morning doing homework. Taking three, four, five or more Advanced Placement (AP) exams is common. Being overworked, exhausted, anxious and feeling inadequate far too often comes with the experience.
And what does that work amount to? The work of perhaps some of the most brilliant high school students in the area. While it cannot be said for each and every Jefferson student, most are very successful in academia and their extracurricular activities, and have worked quite hard to get to where they are.
But all of this is not “overachieving?” By holding a conference perpetuating the merit behind overachieving, TEDx TJHSST seems to undermine the value of students and their work. Because frankly, most Jefferson students already are overachieving, whether they know it or not.
However, many likely think of themselves as simply achieving. The event is going to make that worse. What it will amount to is students feeling inadequate and going even further to achieve their grossly distorted vision of overachievement.
To overachieve is to receive more success than expected. As such, instead of focusing on the ends, Jefferson and TEDx TJHSST should encourage students to do their best, achieve and in doing so overachieve for all of the right reasons.