Mediocrity is often built into the everyday practices of academe under the guise of civility.
Civility becomes the trope that manages our academic relationships.
I see this for example in how teacher student relationships are constructed. The value of such relationships measured in the form of student evaluations works well to reify the status quo. Teachers are prompted by the lowest common denominator under such systems of measurement.
Learning takes the backseat as teachers work on minimizing assignments, making lectures entertaining etc. so that teaching evaluations can be higher.
Minimizing expectations then works to reify the mediocrity of the status quo.
As teachers, we pay more attention to making nice than to caring about our students learning. We are also trained to be inauthentic, managing our teaching by norms of civility in the mainstream, learning to stage a face.
The neoliberal organizing of knowledge works precisely through the organizing of teaching under a framework of customer satisfaction. The more satisfied our customers are, the more effective we are considered to be as teachers. Students as a result learn to be entitled.
Their egos are fragile and they expect to be handled with an appearance of care.
All this would be just fine if our expectations of caring were not so muddled by facetious demonstrations of emoticons, inspiring stickers, and new age jingoism. Caring would be an appropriate point of reference if it did not mean that learning takes a backseat.