Whenever I do anything, I strive for excellence. If I'm not making a meaningful contribution to the field in which I'm working, there's no point in being in the field. That being said, one doesn't have to be particularly great to make a meaningful contribution. As long as one makes a concerted effort for improvement, advancement or development, one is making a meaningful contribution.
Naturally, or so I believe, the order of life and the only basis on which we can live (in a rational manner) is through competition. I don't mean to imply cut-throat life/death struggles, although some of that certainly exists. Friendly competition, rivalry make advancement easier and necessary, and normally eliminates anyone unwilling or unable to make a meaningful contribution to any given field.
The teacher's job is unique in that they are required to, at least, attempt to have students make meaningful contributions. For the most part, their job is, literally, to force a subject on a student. This role changes as students become more independent in choosing courses, but the goal is the same: each student must make a meaningful contribution, or they don't do well in the class.
Looking back, my high school experience was two fold: personally awkward and academically miserable.
I learned more in the first semester of college, about social interaction and academia, than my entire high school career. The people I met were the only redeeming factors about high school, most of which I have little or no contact with now. Regardless, they were the only thing keeping me sane.
On a lighter(?) note, I'm fine. For whatever reason, I'm very apathetic about school right now. Overloaded, perhaps, but I'm fine. The highlights of my college career are my friends and the school newspaper.
How are you?