intellectual decline

It is becoming evident to me through my first year teaching that the current generation of young adults is far from interested in the art of written literature. More and more kids are choosing the fast paced method of “googling,” rather than the old school method of using resources in print form. I was in the middle of reading a chapter of The Great Gatsby today with my eleventh grade class, and I came to realize that not only had they not read the prior chapters, but they also had no shame admitting this lack of interest in their education to their teacher. As a student, I cannot remember being “proud” of not caring about the work presented to me by my educators; so you can imagine my frustration and disappointment during this moment in my classroom.

Soon after my class, I began to think about who’s really at fault for the disinterested youth that continues to emerge in many classrooms across America (I’m sure I’m not the only teacher who has experienced this in recent years). Some blame the households these children are growing up in, noting that parents themselves do not seem to have an appreciation for education and thus, neither do their children. Well, let’s look beyond that and pay attention to popular culture and the immense effect that the media has on this generation of “robots,” as some would like to call it. Students walk into my class upset that they must take off their headphones, instead of being ready to learn. They assume that life will just “happen” and success will fall at their feet (never mind the hard work that it actually takes to be successful, especially nowadays when everyone has a college degree and everyone wants to be famous).

Let’s focus on the idea of fame and popular culture (social media being at the center of this) for a minute. It is rare to look through a social media feed without the constant idea of being rich and famous getting thrown in one’s face. More and more importance continues to be placed on how many Gucci bags or number of followers someone has on these sites. Instead of worrying about how to legitimately contribute to the planet, kids are worried about becoming “instafamous” and posting pictures with misspelled words (I don’t know how many pictures I’ve seen where people are still confusing “you’re” with “your”- it’s really not that difficult people). The fact of the matter is that the number of people (young or old) who seem interested in more than becoming the next Kim Kardashian of the world is progressively declining.

I’m not sure where we’ll be as a society in a couple of years, but I’m hoping at least some of us become aware of the drastic changes that our society is experiencing. Yes, gadgets are fun, cool and at times even mind-blowing, but let’s not forget that they are still gadgets, and they cannot replace good old human interaction.

Til’ next time,

splash m