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My cat and I were sorting through recipes this morning when we came across several newspaper clippings that had been around for quite a while. One was an Ann Landers column with a hard-hitting, dead-on poem by Charles Osgood. If you’ve seen it before, you can only benefit from reading it again – and if this is your first time reading it, I think it’s something you’ll enjoy.
I had cut it out years and years ago when my girls were in grade school and middle school and I could tell it made an impression on them. It did me, too – and it was a lasting one. While the poem’s main “character” is a student – the point is one we can all feel.
“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 wasn’t 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 too exciting,
But he 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 he 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 enough.
The pretty good town in our story
Was part of a pretty good state
Which had pretty good aspirations,
And prayed for a pretty good fate.
There once was 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.
Make each moment count double,
(Reprinted in the Ann Landers column From “The Osgood File,” copyright 1986, CBS Inc.)