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On Measures

The Civility Party yields…

Many moons ago, I sat in the best English class that ever was. Although my teacher would probably gasp at my use of “was.” One shouldn’t use dead verbs after all.

Two sides co-existed: Civility and Dignity. Each day began with a greeting and a Quotation Reflection. Each day, a student received the greatest title: “Wonk.” Each day, we conducted Morning Business and delighted in Literary Revelations. The class could run itself and we impressed the rare substitute that sat back and watched.

I’ve been thinking about that class for a couple of weeks now as my mind continuously floats back to the speech Robert F. Kennedy delivered at the University of Kansas in 1968. This speech was recited from memory by two students each year. The part I keep coming back to recently (after reading articles about standardized testing, after reflecting on my current Whole30 journey with no weighing or body measurements allowed, after hearing political argument after political argument, looking at a race finish times… after… after… after…) is this:


Now, he was talking about the GDP and what it doesn’t measure, but there are so many other ways to see how most numbers fail to tell the whole story. They can tell us a lot, sure. As someone that spends her days with her nose in a spreadsheet, I know that we can learn from numbers, but they still aren’t everything.

The number on the scale won’t tell you the whole story of your health. The number on your test won’t tell you your full intelligence. The finish time on your race doesn’t tell you exactly how you did. They can be be great markers, yes. The finish time PR can show improvement… but the slower time could mean that you raced in extreme heat or you took your time to enjoy the sights and take pictures (perhaps with some characters depending on the race). The time, the number, the score – they can’t measure the experience.

Naturally, as I consider the measure, I also float back to “how do you measure, measure a year?” Consider breaking out of your normal frame of reference and think about how you measure things. Can you measure them differently? Can you stop measuring them altogether?

Are there any quotes that inspire you? Are there phrases you return to regularly? How can you break your own mold of measurement?


2 thoughts on “On Measures

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