As a teacher and a mom, I wonder sometimes.
I wonder (and worry) about the future of my community, of my country and of humanity.
Every time I make even the smallest decision relating to my child, I worry about the impact that decision will have on his growth and how that decision might lead him to success or, ultimately, into eventual therapy one day. Is there too much refined sugar in his lunch for today? Should I let him watch Caillou when I know it will just teach him how to whine better? If he refuses to eat dinner, how should I handle that?
We are all bombarded each day with a cacophony of critical moments — one after another. Robert Frost never warned us that there’d be so many roads to choose. I’d give my eye teeth for the opportunity to choose between just two paths in one day.
I find myself in a constant state of questioning how I am helping to make an impact on future generations, and how I – as just one person – can forever make a positive dent in the seamless shell of human time.
Even with being as introspective as I am, and working with young people everyday, I am consistently shocked to hear about how my finger is absolutely NOT on the pulse of youth culture and (subsequently) the promise of tomorrow.
If you are over the age of 25 and do not work with or regularly have contact with kids ages 12-18, please let me enlighten/terrify you with the following:
1. We are raising a nation of illiterate jackasses. Not only can people born after 2Pac died not write a sentence that makes any kind of coherent sense whatsoever, they (and just wait until you learn this) CANNOT READ HANDWRITING. If I teach a lesson to 10th grade students, I must write on the board using only printed, block letters. Otherwise, moans and groans will erupt, followed with complaints of “I can’t read cursive!” I blame an over-eager generation of text-o-philes for this phenomenon. And, it sucks. Kids today can only process typed language. Many 16-year olds I know do not know how to sign their own names. If asked for a signature, they print instead.
2. This is really showing my age, but for people who are too young to remember the Challenger explosion, some weird social convention has come about. Everyone turned into a big bag of whores after Generation “X” got real jobs.
I was at a party in 1999 where a wet t-shirt contest was taking place. The final “contestant” to be revealed were actually two 19-ish year-old women who got water poured all over them while they stood in their thong underwear and white tees making out with one another. They won the contest. But, I remember wondering (and, I was completely shit-faced, too, mind you, but I don’t ever recall being drunk enough to think that this was a good idea): what would possess young women to degrade themselves for the gratification of young men? I’ve never been a complete feminist per se, but come on, people. I was only slightly older than 19 at this time, but the times they were clearly a-changin’. Have you been to a dance club recently? If not, just stay the hell home. It’s gross. And loud. Chris Rock once joked that a dad’s only job in life is to keep his daughter “off the pole.” If you have been out of your house to witness the under-24 set lately, you may have found already that deciphering between who sucks up dollar bills with her ass cheeks for a living and who is on her way to Philosophy 101 at the local community college is tough since they look an awful lot alike.
3. Technology is a way of life now. Isaac Asimov tried to warn us about the rise of the machines, but the damn kids these days seem to be welcoming it all in. My child could use an iPad before he could pour himself a glass of juice. At the time, I thought that I was just allowing him to be immersed in educational experiences. But, I realize now that he’s likely sitting back and secretly plotting my demise.
Kids view technology as essential for life now. Many adults I know cannot be separated from their smartphones, but the whipper-snappers these days very literally cannot function without electronics. As a teacher, I cannot remember the last time I saw a teenager do even simple addition without a calculator or cell phone. Well over 90% of my students show up to school every day without a pen or pencil. It isn’t that these are bad kids, either. They just don’t typically USE these items in their daily lives.
And, now I have come to realize that kids know that we don’t understand C++ coding techniques and Java Script, I realize that these illiterate sex fiends are poised to be the only survivors of the Zombie Apocalypse (which, for some reason, every 14-year old INSISTS is imminent).
I wonder sometimes about whether I am just becoming old, senile and out of touch with the changing landscape of human society or if that very human society is disintegrating into a wasteland fed by cell phone radiation, whipits and ramen noodles. Either way, I fear I am pretty screwed.
So, adults, beware. I have spoken with the future of this country. And, they are prepared for zombie war and careers as fluffers, but not for writing thank-you notes to their grandmas.