Tuesday, April 12, 2011

Kids Just Aren't Like They Used to Be

Do you recognize these 'kids'? Yes, the 'New Kids on the Block'!
They aren't so 'new' anymore are they?

As you chuckle at the photo above, I'm sure you're thinking "Kids just aren't like they used be!"

I'm going to guess that you've heard this comment many times before. Teaching colleagues, parents and employers have all made this comment. Unfortunately, when I hear this comment it often implies a negative connotation about kids or some notion of disbelief about a kid's actions. As much as I hate to admit it, I am guilty of having made similar comments out of frustration in the past.

But, think about the statement for a moment. Not only is the statement true, but seriously, shouldn't it be? And even more importantly, shouldn't we hope that the statement is true?

The kids of today are growing up in a world that is considerably different than it was 10, 15, 20 or more years ago.  Their 'past' is shorter and different than the 'past' of the previous generation.  The world that has influenced their values, beliefs, principles and actions is considerably different than the world that shaped the thinking of the generation before them.  So, shouldn't we expect that 'kids just aren't like they used to be'?

The fact that 'kids just aren't like they used to be' is what drives forward progress.  They move us beyond the status quo and ensure that the world is constantly changing. Some argue that as a result of growing technologies the world is changing at a greater rate than it ever has in the past. Their fresh ideas and new ways of doing things challenge conventional wisdom.  As they expand their knowledge, gain real-world experience and combine this with new perspectives, they often contribute to the development of innovative ideas and solutions that make our lives easier and better.  It is hard to argue that advances in technology, medicine and even learning aren't contributing positively to society. However, these innovative ideas, while undeniably positive, often create emerging local and global challenges. But who better to adapt to these challenges and design solutions than the next generation of kids, who they themselves think and act differently than the generation before them.

So why is it that when we say 'kids just aren't like they used to be' we often do expressing our frustration and disbelief about them.  Is is because we are struggling to understand them? Is is because we are resisting change and unwilling to accept their new perspectives?  Consider this the next time you're about to utter the words 'kids just aren't like they used to be'.

1 comment:

  1. The following comment was rec'd directly and has been posted with permission.

    Sadly, I remember that picture of the New Kids on the Block!  I think your post is so very timely, yet this same post can be used once every two years or so.  Kids are definitely different today compared to 5, 10, and more year ago, and they will be forever changing.  They seem to be changing with the rate of change of technology and social options available on the market.  Yet, the way they are taught in schools isn't drastically different from the units of years mentioned above.  Concerns about this?  
    The advances in personal technology, the speed of communication and the sheer amount of data available to every person's fingertips are all changing the game.  I do see change happening to adapt in our schools to these factors (along with the plethora of others) but with things changing so fast, it seems hard to keep up on a wholesale level.  
    On another note, I also see a pull between the two sides of: How do we get kids to be like they used to be and have the same experiences as they did (in the past)? and/or How can we adapt to meet the needs of today's student?  So which is it?  
    Nice post.  Thought provoking and a catalyst to self reflection as an educator.