These kids today – with their hippity-hop and their rock and/or roll– what are we gonna do with ‘em? From the Ice Age to the Electronic Age, adults have been shaking their heads and asking that question. When I was younger, they were talkin’ ‘bout my generation. People tried to put us down. Just because we sat around (watching the MTV).
Now it’s my turn.
I believe most kids are good, decent and capable of great intelligence. But we’re faced with a generation whose thirst for knowledge has been dampened by technology and the prospect of exerting a little effort. If it can’t be popped into the X-Box or the Wii and fed to their brains in high-definition SurroundSound, why bother?
While working on a geography report, a friend’s kid asked me, "Is Puerto Rico in California?" I replied, "Look it up." She responded, "If I have to look it up, I don’t need to know," before turning back to her all-important Google search for pictures of shirtless teen heartthrobs.
Another kid I know got a D because she couldn’t recite the Preamble to the Constitution. She defended the grade as acceptable because it wasn’t an F. "It’s still a passing grade," she said. "Besides, I can’t remember all that stuff!" Then she switched on her Snoop Dogg CD and proceeded to drop it like it was hot – without missing a word.
It saddens me when anyone, especially a child, closes the door to learning because it takes a little work. It’s criminal when a kid knows more about American Idol than American history, when they can quote Linkin Park but not Abraham Lincoln, when they can do the Harlem Shake, but have never heard of the Harlem Renaissance.
Sure, I was a teenager once. I had my idols and knew their every vital statistic (Andy Gibb, born Andrew Roy Gibb, March 5, 1958). But I also knew that Kansas’ Carry on, Wayward Son was drawn from the Greek myth of Icarus and that Freddie Mercury’s homeland of Zanzibar was once an independent African state, but united with Tanganyika in the ‘60s to form Tanzania.
Was I a freak of nature? Yeah, but I also kicked butt in Trivial Pursuit and Jeopardy. Today’s ultra-hip crowd would surely deem me a "geek," a "dork," a "herb," or whatever the kids are calling it nowadays.
Don’t get me wrong – I’m not saying all kids have no interest in enriching their minds; I know many who do. But we – society, the media, parents, adults in general – make it easy for them to sell themselves short. These days, information is literally at their fingertips. It’s not like back in our day, when we had to actually turn pages!
Real life isn’t The OC or Dawson’s Creek, where 45-year-old writers put 35-year-old wisdom in the mouths of 25-year-old actors playing 15-year-old kids. It takes a village not only to raise children, but to educate them in and out of the classroom.
Ignorance isn’t bliss; it’s dangerous. The more our kids know, the more prepared they’ll be for a world that’s one part playing field, two parts battlefield. They need to be armed. And I don’t mean with bullets.