Saturday, September 30, 2006

Kids These Days

“It seems like kids know nothing these days.” I have heard this phrase all my life. And the phrase gets repeated generation after generation, so much so that it seems to be conventional wisdom.

Many that use this phrase leave no room for discussion. I’m left wondering if this is the way they wish it to be or if they have convinced themselves, or maybe they have heard it enough that it is now their truth.

Every time I hear this phrase and its equivalent “Kids these days!” I cringe a little.

I do so because I recognize that they begin life with zero knowledge of our world, its laws, teachings or values. They assimilate the values from the people that are slightly older, the very ones that decry the lost intelligence of generations that follow. From parents and grandparents come the lessons of life, the teachings and values they come to hold as their own. As information technology grows this process of passing knowledge becomes more difficult for individuals. We see influences of television, movies, music and video games stamped across the brains of our children. We see positive things as well. We see a vast network of information spread before their eyes and fingers in a way we never dreamed of or imagined we would ever experience.

The information is often technical however. I’ve not yet seen a video game dealing with ethics or moral choice. Information marketed to teens is rarely of the ethics and honor variety, rather themes like ‘jackass’ bring the dollars to the tv executives and shareholders.

It then becomes easy for us to turn our back and declare it is the fault of the world outside of us that kids have no manners, values, honor or knowledge. This is too easy I think.

If we are so convinced that kids have lost their way, defined as OUR way, then why are we so reticent to teach the values? Why do we blame an outside world?

I am drifting off into moralizing and hoped not to do so, still I see a world of kids with incredible potential. Theirs is a potential far greater than yours or mine for no other reason than that they are living through a continually advancing world of knowledge at a time later than you or I.

We inherit what we sow, do we not? This is wisdom handed down through the Books of Wisdom and layers of time. The next time we want to lament the ignorance of our children perhaps we should remind ourselves who has been teaching them, and then ask if we might have been teaching them at all?

I am reminded of the NFL head coach that declared at his weekly press conference that he was coaching the stupidest football team of all time. He said it was a team that appeared to know nothing about football. He said it with a straight face. He appeared to believe the responsibility for teaching them football belonged with someone else.

I laughed. He kept frowning.


Reach said...

Yes, I do recognize The...."It's not my Fault" quote in this article.

Also, I know I was one of those "referred" kids, in my youth. To each of these, I only have one thing to say:

I hope they don't grow up to be a brain surgeon. However, on second thought- I have maintained contact with one of those kids, from my yourth and he is a brain surgeon. So, I guess I should only be thankful that I am not a brain surgeon, and so should everybody else. LOL


Ilias- said...

Quite the probing post Seven. I too see a world of incredible potential as brought in by a new generation. A generation capable of shifting the planet into balance once again. How will they do that? I don't know. How do I know that? I don't. But I feel that children are capable of keeping that wisdom of youth that we all have. They don't have to shut out their intuitions for day jobs. And they don't have to learn to fit into the system, they can make the system fit them. As we all do, they have choices. It is with all my capacity to effect any of that, to show through teaching that the choice to be an artist is one of many - one with rewards and downfalls like any other choice. How can children these days be shown awareness of the possibilities? They need role models.. not robotic bodies spouting knowledge. People with courage, stamina and patience who just are. With or without knowledge about math equations, the proper spelling of the word freind or 30 minutes to scarf down junk food lunch in the cafeteria. We all know what a friend is no matter what the spelling. Thank you my friend Seven. Enjoyed your post... again.

Enemy of the Republic said...

I don't have the answer to all the kids in the world. Media, culture, econonic and familial changes certainly influence, but ultimately we are all human with the same measure of strengths and weaknesses, dolled out in different areas. So I focus on how to raise my own. I see so much goodness there, and I also see the struggle to fight outside forces that could claim them. I have learned that some battles will be lost, some will draw blood but be victorious and some just won't take place. I have deeper theories than any of this, but in conclusion to that coach: when I was a teacher, we always blamed the teacher in the grade prior for what the students didn't know. One day I had an ephinany. I realized that it didn't matter how they came to me; it mattered how they left. That coach needs to learn the same. If I ever do a sports post, I will address the bigger why of unprepared athletes and much is systematic. But ultimately, you work with what you've got. That's your job.

Anonymous said...

Shhhh. Don't tell anyone that I found a computer to check out email and blogs. I couldn't resist commenting on this.

To echo what EOTR said, when I was working as a psychotherapist, I always taught parents and the psychotherapists I supervised that the important thing for changing behaviors is "to plant the seed" that you want to see grow. Then you must be patient, continue to plant seeds. Eventually, many of those seeds will sprout, and you see the beginnings of a responsible young adult. The hardest part for most of us is being patient. We live in a time of instant gratification (that’s why I sneaked here!) and we want things “fixed” right now. Raising a responsible child to adulthood takes many seeds, fertilized with patience. My greatest pleasure was on those occasions when a parent called me 2 or more years later to tell me that they finally saw the first seedling of responsibility. The trick, however, wasn’t that the child had changed a behavior, but that the parent did the job of cultivating the desired behaviors. It matters very little what as already occurred, but what I/we impart can be pivotal to our youth.

thanks for not telling anyone that I was here. I’ll “see” you again soon. ;-)

Jenn said...

I spend a fair amount of time with the parents of toddlers. I'm frequently astounded, and have learned to keep my mouth shut and my face clear, when they act like the kids are just going to learn things without being taught. Or when they're surprised by some behavior their child exhibits.

Certainly - children, people for that matter, will learn through experience and I know that. But why not try to teach them things? My daughter is like a sponge. And she understands conceptual things - not all - but many. By conceptual - I mean values. She knows what rude is...what kind is..what fair is...things like that.

I remember when I was potty-training my little one...apparently she was 'too young' according to her peers' parents. Time and time again I heard 'Oh...mine's just not interested.' It's not as if my daughter came to me one day and said 'Mama - I'm really interested in potty-training, can you help me out?' Granted - that's a tangible thing to teach...but the attitude crosses over to all teaching.

I'm not a freakishly strict parent either...I just feel if my daughter is prepared - in every way I can prepare her - for meeting the world...she'll do better.

Ok...stepping off my soapbox.

Jenn said...

Ok...I'm back. Something my daughter just did made me think of this post.

We were coming in from the grocery store. I was carrying all the groceries - because I hate making more than one trip. There's a hill in front of my house and the rule is that she walks in front of me. So she's walking in front of me and I'm feeling like I might not make it all the way because I'm trying to carry 10 bags of groceries slowly behind her. :-)

Anyway - she stopped and looked at me. Then she held out her hand and said, "Here Mama, take my hand. Let me help you."

Forget that it was hilarious because she's too tiny to help was a beautiful moment. I actually put some of the groceries down so she could help me. Sometimes it's worth the extra trip.

Anyway - she's learned something that I wanted her to learn....I'd guess through mimicry but that's the main way they learn at first.

Seven said...
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.
Seven said...

My kids still accuse me of 'brain surgery' but I promise I never opened their skull once. As far as MY youth, surgery clearly needed, yet not received.

You likely deduced that I was reflecting on our recent conversations about teaching; the one Eenemy also added flavoring to. Both of you have my respect and admiration. I also accept all you said in the comment as fact. Some have the art of teaching, some do not. But, we can all try and do the best we can do.

I think you discerend my point well. I think you voiced it better than I did, because quite honestly I wrote the post on the fly. You are so right that it begins with each of us as individuals dedicated to working with what we have. I think the key is dedication to the task and love of the pupil. Well...of course I don't mean a Debra LaFave sort of love.....

You know how I love that 'seed' analogy thing. I also think you are target bullseye on this and obviously all your years of observation have solidified the point. Just so you know, lots of folks come here to read but never comment, so I think I will have a hard time keeping your secret Ms. Sneaky.

You are a model to me of how to handle a very tough child/spouse situation and do it with grace and excellence. I pray little one has your hand for many many more years of learning.

patti_cake said...

My daughter will be two this month and she is constantly astounding me with the things she does/knows. I get a little aggravated at the youth of today, what I percieve to be their lackadaisacal attitudes but if more parents would "get with the program" it would sort itself out.
Jenn, you rock, Mamma, you definitely rock. You're my hero.

Rob said...

7, things don't change much. Here's a quote for you. "Children nowadays are tyrants. They contradict their parents, gobble their food and tyrannise their teachers"- Socrates

Seven said...

Thanks point exactly though Socrates did not appear to share my optimism!

Rob said...

Judging some of his other quotes, like "By all means, marry. If you get a good wife, you'll become happy; if you get a bad one, you'll become a philosopher", he didn't have any children to be optimistic about.