‘If you want to be great, pretty good is, in fact, pretty bad’

Several years ago, Ann Landers printed a poem about “a pretty good student” that spoke to many young students that felt the urge to goof off. One young girl wrote to let Ann know how the poem helped to keep her focused and on track and felt the poem should be read by students every day to keep them from falling into the pit of mediocrity…and asked Ann to please print it again.

Ann replied to the young student, the poem was written by Charles Osgood and here it is:

There once was a pretty good student, who sat in a pretty good class and was taught by a pretty good teacher who always let pretty good pass.

He was terrific at reading, he wasn’t a whiz-bang at math, but for him, education was leading straight down a pretty good path. He didn’t find school to exciting, but wanted to do pretty well, and he did have some trouble with writing and nobody had taught him to spell.

When doing arithmetic problems, pretty good was regarded as fine. Five plus five didn’t always add up to 10; a pretty good answer was nine.

The pretty good class that he sat in was part of a pretty good school, and the student was not an exception; on the contrary, he was the rule.

The pretty good school that he went to was there in a pretty good town. And nobody there seemed to notice he could not tell a verb from a noun. The pretty good student in fact was part of a pretty good mob. And the first time her knew what he lacked was when he looked for a pretty good job. It was then, when he sought a position, he discovered that life could be tough. And he soon had a sneaky suspicion pretty good might not be good enough.

The pretty good town in our story was part of a pretty good state, which had a pretty good nation, pretty proud of the greatness it had, which learned much too late, if you want to be great, pretty good is, in fact, pretty bad.

Millie’s thought for today: Unknown, Many people today don’t want honest answers in so far as honest means unpleasant or disturbing. They want a soft answer that turneth away anxiety.

Mildred Higgins