What’s the Matter With Kids These Days – More on an "A for effort"

Washington Post writer Ruben Navarrette throws in his two cents on the recent student entitlement reports from the New York Times. He touches on most of the things I discussed earlier last month. I’m still shocked by some of the student comments on what they deserve for grades and I’m from their generation. Mr. Navarrette holds the same view on this subject that I do: kids are crazy babies!

from Real Clear Politics

Oh, something is wrong all right. The lead author of the study speculates that this sense of entitlement comes from parental pressure, peer competition, or increased anxiety about achieving good grades. Other academics suggest that maybe the entitlement culture begins at the K-12 level, where students learned how to take tests and developed an expectation that they’d receive high marks just for passing them. One reader who commented on the article via the Times’ Web site blamed “the high cost of university education” and the philosophy that “the customer is always right — especially when that customer is paying $50,000 a year.”

Personally, I don’t think it’s any of the above. I think most if this comes from how these young people were raised. There are a lot of parents out there who spoil and coddle their kids, constantly telling them they’re special and the center of the universe. They instinctively use praise to inject them with high self-esteem but often fail to teach them that the best way to feel good about yourself is by working hard and accomplishing something in life.

College professors and administrators are seeing one frame of a long movie. For many students, this sense of entitlement was there before freshman orientation, and it’ll be there long after graduation. Just listen to employers talk about hiring and managing 20-somethings who never learned about paying dues and want to sprint up the corporate ladder. Not long ago, I heard from a subcontractor who said that many of his younger employees were requesting that they only work three days a week so they could have more leisure time. Former Labor Secretary Elaine Chao hit the nail on the head in 2007 when she noted that young workers “have to be able to accept direction … (since) too many young people bristle when a supervisor asks them to do something.”

One would hope that the current recession would change some of that thinking and teach young people to bring their attitudes down a notch. That would lead to a stronger work ethic and less sense of entitlement. And, before they enter the work force, college is as good a place as any to learn an important lesson in life — that being successful means worrying less about what you expect, and simply doing what is expected of you.

This would be a good time to advocate for a community service requirement for graduating high school. Not just a day or a week either. I had more than a few study halls throughout high school. Did I study? I used my time for school work about as often as the Cubs win a World Series (sorry Chicago fans). Perhaps my time would have been better spent if I had been given a list of organizations to donate time to and sent out into the community. Students get a little life experience and pride in their community. Communities get some much needed assistance. This benefits everyone. Why school districts delay on this (and don’t give me that lack of funds crap) is beyond me.

What do you think?

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