What our kids can learn from American Idol

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It’s good to discover when you’re no good. “Average Joe” Taylor Hicks’ win last night on American Idol, captured both the imagination and participation of 63.4 million voters. I’m not a regular watcher (for shame!) as the show is on during my children’s bath time. But, I remember seeing him on one of the first episodes of the season. I recall there was a discussion of his gray hair and how that might be a handicap for him in the competition. (It turned out not to be such a problem for George Clooney either). It’s nice to see it worked out OK for him. And I think that’s why America loves this show so much. It makes us believe all of us regular Joes have the potential to capture the publics’ adulation. Some of us might actually succeed through song without having to fight for notice by a record company. American Idol gives us a shot to take it directly to the people. Others of us will explore other avenues that better suit our talents. We succeed by trial and error and this may be one of the best lessons all those kids watching can take from this show. The show gives them a chance to see people taking a risk, enduring humiliation on a national stage and then carrying on. They’ll come to discover what they’re really good at in time. It makes me recall how much I wanted to join my all-girls’ Catholic High School’s singing group. I must have been 14 at the time and had only some vague idea that my singing voice was not particularly strong. I’d managed to hold a tune all through music class in elementary school. I’d even sung up on the altar with the rest of my class (I failed to note that the entire class was included regardless of talent). I put together a little dance bit to the tune of “Putting on the Ritz,” practiced rigorously and then took my act to try outs. My friends, fellow classmates and judges sat before me on bleachers in the high school’s music performance room. As I performed my little dance I could see on their faces that they were pained for me. If it wasn’t so embarrassing, I would have thought it sweet of them. I wasn’t even hopeful after that. I knew that if you tried out every year, they would generally let you join as a senior – out of pity. It just sounded too pitiful. Luckily for me, the school’s newspaper office was on the same floor, just around the corner. I settled in there and eventually ended up with the top job. So you see, a little song, a little dance, a little humiliation is really quite good for us.