Simon Cowell’s new show, The X-Factor, premiered last night on FOX. As a die hard American Idol fan since Season 1, I hurried home and made sure to have my remote at the ready when the clock struck 8:00. Curious as to how to the show would start, I was pleasantly surprised when a spunky 13-year-old took the stage. Rachel Crow had a great story and a great personality– I was rooting for her as she stood there in front of a 4,000-person audience. Once the music was cued, my jaw hit the floor. This spirited little girl delivered an astonishing rendition of “Mercy” by Duffy by not only singing well, but also having fantastic stage presence.
During the next commercial break, I couldn’t help but analyze what I just saw in quite a Consider-like fashion: our society is obsessed with bringing out the best potential in our children and, frankly, I don’t think this is a bad thing. As a nation, we need to keep up with the international community. According to data presented in a recent TED Talk by Niall Ferguson, the US work ethic is steadily declining, whereas that of the Chinese is on the rise. Strong work ethic is not a quality we just develop the moment we join the work force. It is something that needs to be taught and more importantly, practiced, at a young age. School, sports, the arts– all of these are comfortable realms for children to begin cultivating this beneficial quality.
Though I support pushing children to strive for excellence, I must say, there is a such thing as pushing too hard. The number of severe high school injuries due to intensive practices and games are only growing. A Slate article reports:
“…there are about 1 million high-school football players in any given year in the United States. There are some 67,000 reported concussions, and probably about as many that go unreported because fans, coaches, and parents don’t want a star athlete pulled from a game. But among the supposedly injury-free remainder, the Purdue researchers believe tens of thousands of athletes routinely suffer serious brain injuries from high-impact collisions intrinsic to the game.”
So here, I am torn. Measures need to be taken so that the US remains an international superpower, but at what point do we need to step back and ask ourselves, are we pushing too hard? Should a 13-year-old be competing on national television for a chance at a $5 million prize? Having not seen last night’s episode, I probably would’ve said no. However, Rachel Crow’s performance made me realized she wasn’t pushed into anything– she has a natural talent and is sharing it with the rest of us. Perhaps this will inspire other children (and adults) to pursue their goals a bit harder and maybe one day, it may too earn them $5 million. Check out Rachel’s audition below: