Monday, September 28, 2009

Youth Is Wasted On The Young

Here's something that really got me fired up:

And while a lot of people will agree that cursive is going the way of the abacus, it truly is an absolute tragedy if it does. Not only will our children and our students not know the traditional cursive forms that even our forefathers were fluent in, but we will officially be giving in to the overwhelming pressure for text-speak or abbreviations, or even laziness to take precedence in the classroom. That's not OK with me.

While correcting tests last week, I ran into a handful of "aka," "idk," "b4," and "&." While the ampersand doesn't necessarily enrage me, the others do. I still consider & to be a shortcut, but it is perfectly acceptable in note-taking because it's part of the ever-changing contemporary shorthand, which colleges around the world urge their students to investigate and utilize. Each time I saw these on my tests, I wondered what these kids were thinking? Do they think that the world will quickly change into something informal, instantaneous, and insouciant, where spelling goes by the wayside of innovative ideas or video games? I know the majority of these kids have never read a book outside of school, but that they have probably texted (and in the past week mind you) a book-length amount of text messages. [Many also try to be sly and text during my class. This is the last week in which I won't be doling out immediate, non-negotiable detentions for such insubordination.]

Do my students really live in a world where this is considered kosher? It is the responsibility of my generation to alter their opinions of this, to re-instill the lost and forgotten values and rules? I hate to say it, but this generation is the most nihilistic so far. No topics are taboo, and no age is too young for any topic anymore, it seems--at least when it comes to the students. While parents try to protect their children more and more from the evils of the world, their children are exposed to them earlier and earlier, and while these things exist in their worlds, in their parents' worlds, they are still innocent and naive.

I admit, I was also naive to this. But when my freshmen decided that "foreshadowing" was "foreplay," and "hyperbole" was "gross diarrhea of the mouth, right?" I immediately realized that the filters and levels of respect that were once so important and essential in our culture, are slowly dissolving in today's youth. I hope that the younger teachers and tomorrow's parents realize that each subsequent generation is becoming more inoculated against both the evils and the beneficial and benevolent parameters of the world. Each subsequent generation is breaking or bending the rules more and more, and with each push, more and more of the rules are falling by the wayside. In addition, there is a level of entitlement and rewarding unlike anything that our ancestors could imagine. Now, there is no first place trophy. Everyone gets a trophy, even if they don't do anything. Now, every students has the right to challenge the way I grade, the way I teach, and the way that they are expected to learn. Their rights are stacking up while mine are disintegrating. Their feeling of deserving this and that is growing exponentially year by year. Rules are simply things to be challenged. Communication isn't important unless it's in a chat room or via text message.

As one of my students put it, "but when we graduate college, we won't have to know grammar; plus we have spell check." There's much to pull from this about how much they believe the world will soon cater to them, and how much the world will change by the time they reach my age.

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