Thursday, January 17, 2008

What’s wrong with America’s Youth?

Yea so this is probably going to be one of those “when I was your age I walked to school 5 miles in the snow, uphill, both ways.”

This is seriously the kinds of stories I got from my grandparents and I used to think it is just not possible to walk uphill both ways. Yet, just this Christmas my boyfriend’s grandmother told us a similar story. What is it with grandparents and telling us this kind of story? It’s like they want us to know how they suffered in life (and I'm sure they had their share of suffering). I’ve suffered too, but not from walking to school in the snow, which I did, but it wasn’t uphill *both* ways. And I can think of far worse things that happened to me, walking in snow wasn't one of them.

But anyway, when I was in school we had to work hard and do well to get good grades. At least for me (and plenty of my friends) there were repercussions if I didn’t do well, so there was incentive to do well in school. Teachers did feel bad for us and give us an A when we deserved a D, and our parents didn’t call the teachers and bitch at them until they did things like that. If I got a D my parents knew that is what I earned and deserved – it wasn’t because the teacher was out to get me. Or if they really didn't like us maybe we were graded slightly harsher, but not by 5 grades!

Sure there were plenty of times I felt a little screwed on a grade – like the time I had earned an A (the teachers would give out the grade to us after the final exam before the report cards were issued) in every class in college to have the perfect 4.0 semester, but when I got the report card one teacher had made a mistake and listed it as an A-! I tried to find the teacher to find out what had happened and get it corrected, but she had left the school. My perfect 4.0 ruined, but I got over it. Kind of.

I felt that my teachers made me work hard – or at least tried to, I remember them getting annoyed with me for not trying harder because they knew I could. Yea probably, but I was a little lazy. But not so lazy I felt that I could just show up and not do anything and hope my parents yelled at the teacher to pass me! I wanted to learn. I wanted to be successful in life.

A friend of mine is a high school teacher and I am often shocked at the stories she tells me. I had dinner with her the other night which is where this whole rant comes from. Kids don’t want to work (I’m sure there are plenty that do but I’m generalizing). Then when they get the grades they definitely deserved their parents call and complain the teacher is being too hard on them. That these kinds of things shouldn’t be expected of high school students - like reading books and writing papers… the horror! Sure it’s probably tough and challenging, but it SHOULD be! They are trying to prepare these students for college. And the way it’s going with kids getting babied – like there are no winners or losers in games, or even if you really deserved a D we’re giving you a B because your parents yelled at me. How will these kids be prepared for the real world?? They don’t even understand that life isn’t fair, because they live in a little protective bubble. What will they do when they are at college and their professor assigns 250 pages of reading for homework, and another teachers assigns 50 pages, and yet another has a test – and they are all tomorrow. Will their parents call the universities to say they are being too hard on poor little Johnny – how can he be expected to do so much? Boo Hoo suck it up. We all did and made it through. Plus in the real world – do you think my bosses actually say things like well I don’t want to challenge you, or make this too hard for you? No! Plus I don’t want that – I LIKE a challenge.

And my other issue is what is with this attitude of today’s youth that the world owes them something. Owe them what? A kick in the ass is about all I think it owes them. What is this sense of entitlement that kids have?

When I was in my senior year of college they prepared us to interview and write our resumes – which were graded and had to be in decent shape to graduate. That really prepared me for the real world. They taught us what to expect in our first jobs: low pay, doing grunt work to prove ourselves and move up. They taught us to be grateful someone actually hired us and that we had better work hard and do a good job to move up. I had to do some crappy grunt work and it sucked, but I did a good job and got promoted and worked my way up. I was afraid no one would hire me when I graduated, after all, who was I? What did the world owe me? But I got a job and they really liked me. I felt grateful. But now kids graduate and they have no clue – they expect $75,000 salaries and no grunt work and then are angry that this isn’t what happens for them. Why? Didn’t their colleges prepare them for what came next? Don’t they realize they have to start at the bottom to work to the top? I mean maybe you start at a salary like that and get to do better than grunt work if you go to MIT or Harvard, but if you are like the rest of us, you start at the bottom and work your way up.

A friend of mine has a cousin that was so angry her boss was “being unfair” and made her do “grunt work” she actually had her DAD call this boss to bitch her out!!!! Who does this? Shame on the father, and shame on the daughter – she was 23 years old at the time. Cut the cord already! She should be able to work this out on her own. AND she should realize everyone has to start somewhere.

I certainly don’t know everything and I’m sure 20 years from now I will be much wiser than I am now, but I know so much more than I did in my 20s. I don’t ever recall thinking I had all the answers in my 20s. I learned a lot from the people that were older and wiser than me. I took advantage of that to learn everything I could from them, and sure they probably learned a little from me.

My teacher friend showed her students an article how Americans were losing their edge in the world, how more was getting outsourced - trying to motivate them to work harder. They instead said things like I won't worry about that - in 5 years someone will make a law to prohibit that. Um I'm pretty sure they won't, after all if someone is more qualified and cheaper to pay why wouldn't companies go with them?

With so much getting outsourced, and American kids getting lazier and lazier, and their parents and them making excuses for why – how can our country remain competitive in the world? How can we keep up? Other nations have kids that are hungrier than ours, and hey good for them – they want to work hard and earn it – great! But where will our country be in 20-30 years when we have a nation of people that make excuses for their laziness and shortcomings and blame everyone else, rather than look at themselves? We will no longer be the country of innovation. It’s sad really. How bitter these kids will be when they don’t have any knowledge because they blew off their education and don’t have a job because really the world *didn’t* owe them anything.


02145 said...

Excellent post.

My parents NEVER sided with the teachers. I received a D once in the 7th grade. I grew up in New Bedford - a really tough city with a very shabby school system. My math teacher was an full blown alcoholic who had no patience for people like me, who struggled with mathematical concepts. When I brought the D home, I was grounded for two weeks and forced to ask my drunk teacher for extra help. I'm only 36, so this wasn't back in the Dark Ages or anything. My parents had very high expectations of me. I felt pressured, but I've been self sufficient for the last 16 years because of it.

The real world is going to give these overly coddled types a serious pounding.

DJDiva said...


I think people who's parents didn't baby them and let us experience that the real world isn't fair - are much more prepared to face the world.