Haley Scholar Reading Groups
By Cindy Lyles
In “Blowup,” Malcolm Gladwell discusses the historic catastrophe of the Challenger space shuttle explosion in 1986. He also To demonstrate that the Challenger disaster was no one’s fault in particular, the Three Mile Island (TMI) accident serves as a basis of comparison. The TMI tragedy occurred due to five specific mechanical malfunctions, rather than a person’s deliberate negligence; such is the case with the Challenger.
Sociologist Diane Vaughan argues, “‘No fundamental decision was made at NASA to do evil…Rather, a series of seemingly harmless decisions were made that incrementally moved the space agency toward catastrophic outcome’” (282). NASA’s outwardly harmless decisions in this instance stemmed from a culture of “normalized deviance” according to Vaughan (287). Apparently, the space administration had grown so accustomed to making risky decisions about faulty shuttle parts that their perceived chances for danger were low. In other words, risks and hazards became customary and expected.
Is “normalized deviance” (which in our academic context could include the regular practice of waiting until the last minute to complete class assignments or texting during class lectures) merely an unacceptable excuse for negative outcomes or an acceptable justification? How so?
Procrastination is used quite often as an excuse for bad grades. Some students may blame it on the teacher for their bad grades, but sometimes it's their own fault for waiting until the last minute. Nevertheless procrastination is very prevelant for students in high school and college.
“Normalized deviance” such as the regular practice of waiting until the last minute to complete class assignments or texting during class lectures is merely an unacceptable excuse for negative outcomes. It is an unacceptable excuse simply because the negative outcomes could have possibly been avoided. If a negative outcome can be prevented then there should be no excuse as to why it was not prevented. “Normalized deviance” is merely bad decisions that can result in undesirable outcomes. Nobody is perfect, but “normalized deviance” is an unacceptable excuse for negative outcomes simply because better decisions could have been made. It would only be acceptable if the decision was not based on choice.
Many students wait to the last minute to complete assignments or simply do not pay attention in class. Unfortunately, these actions do lead to negative outcomes in most cases. It is not uncommon that students will receive a poor grade and blame others for the result. In reality, this is just an individual's way of feeling better about themselves. Usually when one carries out an action such as waiting until the last minute it becomes a frequent action. These actions accumulate and creates an ultimate downfall. Even though it is frequent in the college scene, this does not justify that this way of thinking is acceptable.
Normalized deviation cannot be considered an unacceptable excuse as everyone has the right choose their own actions. However, when it comes to class time, such distractions such as cell phones are not only a distraction for the student but also to the professor. When a student chooses to text or use their phone during class they are being disrespectful to their fellow students and professor. For this reason I find cell phone use in class to be unacceptable. When it comes to procrastination, some students work more efficiently and effectively when time becomes a factor. I, for one, do much better on assignments when time forces me to sit down and work without distraction. For those who merely don’t work on their assignments because they do not feel like it at the moment, it is not unacceptable as they can choose to fail if they wish, but it is not advisable to put off important work.
I THINK THAT NORMALIZED DEVIANCE IS AN UNACCEPTABLE EXCUSE FOR NEGATIVE OUTCOMES. WE ARE ALL GIVEN SYLLABI AT THE BEGINNING OF EACH COURSE SO WE SHOULD KNOW WHEN THINGS ARE DUE. ALTHOUGH IT IS VERY NORMAL FOR MOST STUDENTS TO PROCRASTINATE AND TEXT DURING CLASS, WHEN THE NEGATIVES RESULTS SHOW IT IS STILL NOT ACCEPTABLE TO USE THAT AS THE JUSTIFICATION.
Is procrastination an acceptable practice? I would generally say no. Is it going to stop happening? The answer to that question is also no. I believe that it an alternative that will always be there... but it carries the risk of not always working out well. Like the others have said, it is a choice that is made and if you want a certain outcome, you must make the choice that will lead you closest to it.
I Believe Normalized Deviance Is Not A good Excuse As To Why Something Negative happens. I believe when you know better you do better therefore when you know that your class is based merely on pay attention in class and you chose not to and you get a bad grade you only have yourself to blame just because you can do it, everyone else is doing it it doesn't mean its okay. You what you want out of the class therefore you need to do what is expected to reach what you want, excuses are just crutches.
I feel that “normalized deviance” is an unacceptable excuse for negative outcomes. In the case of procrastination, if some waits until the last minute to complete assignments and receive poor grades on them, then that individual should not use that as an excuse for receiving the poor grade. If that individual had just started on the assignment in the beginning instead of waiting until the last minute, they could have perfected the assignment and avoided receiving the bad grade. If someone does continue procrastinating on assignments and he or she receives average grades, that person will keep doing so because it worked out before. Eventually, procrastination will catch up to them and something will happen because of it and regret doing so.
I think in general "normalized deviance" is an unacceptable excuse for negative outcomes, especially when those negative outcomes result in a loss of life, as was the case with the Challenger tragedy. However, I do think Vaughan brought up an interesting point in that normalized deviance is a result of cultural factors that make slacking off or acting without taking risks into account a cultural norm. In an academic setting, I think a lot of people procrastinate because procrastination and slacking off have become accepted and normal in college culture. People think "Everyone else is procrastinating/texting in class, so I don't see why it would so bad if I did too", and as a result you see large groups of students putting off their assignments until the last minute. In addition, media depictions of college oftentimes show slackers and procrastinators as the people who have all the fun in college, while students who work hard and do assignments in a timely fashion are depicted as nerdy losers. In some cases people base their ideas for what college should be like off of pop culture depictions, and so they are encouraged to slack off and party now and put studying off until later.
“Soap-box Time” This type of behavior is a huge “pet-peeve” of mine. We are a part of a larger community; whether it is the classroom, the school, the sports team or organization, and most of all the business concern we either work for or strive to work for. As such we are, like it or not, representatives of the said community. Unfortunately, too many people see themselves as independent players, as if their actions shouldn’t affect anyone else. The truth is that our actions do have consequences that impact others, sometimes negatively, and in some instances fatally (as discussed in the reading). We tend to want the most bang for the buck, the greatest reward for the least amount of work. I was always taught you get out what you put in. Judging from all scientific indicators, American students aren’t putting in the work and as a result American students are seen as lazy and unwilling to be team players. That does not describe the majority of us, but it only takes a few to damage the reputation of the community. How do you represent your community?
I feel that "normalized deviance" is an unacceptable excuse. For procrastination, one shouldn't wait until the very last minute to complete a homework assignment or to study for a test and then blame the teacher for not teaching. Sure, if the teacher teaches well you should be able to complete the assignment quick, but not everything you need to know is in the lectures. You have to actually read the textbook to learn. Plus, if you keep procrastinating everyday, you'll get used to it, then when harder, more diffucult assignments come along, you won't be able finish and you'll usually blame the teacher (or yourself).
Just based on personal experiences, I have procrasinated many times and my outcome has not always been negative. I think it depends on the person. Some people work well under pressure when they know they are up against a deadline and others dont perform as well.
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