I was thinking today, as I sat relaxing, enjoying a coffee in an inner city café & some quiet me time. As I was blankly staring out the window at the world as it passed by I noticed a group of teens hanging out doing nothing. Fairly unremarkable I know but, this got me to thinking, "What would I have been doing at a similar age on a similar day."
Now, I'm in my mid 30's so I'm talking about traveling back in time to the early 90's, not a million years ago. I really would appreciate your feedback and input in regards to this as I'm writing from the point of view of a boy who grew up in the outer suburbs, and I'm comparing my life to my daughter's which is a city upbringing. We're only 10 mins from where I was raised but the differences seem huge. I am also an only child so have no experience of what a similarly aged female sibling got up to in the early 90's.
Let's kick this off...
Me: I'd finish school, go home, raid the fridge, dump my stuff in my room, hang my uniform on the floor, then grab something else to eat as I left home hollering something like "I'm off to [insert friends or other place that wouldn't arouse suspicion here], I'll be back for tea." I'd return when hungry and disappear shortly after feeding time to resume whatever it was we were up to, generally returning around 8 or 9pmish.
Daughter: Comes home from school, raids fridge, dumps stuff in her bedroom, hangs uniform on floor. OK so far much the same, then it's out with her cellphone (pffft, who am I kidding, it was never out of her hand), on to my Mac or out with her laptop, MP3 player on, then the daily ritual of multitasking communications, MSN, Facebook, Bebo, Yahoo, texting etc. etc. The furious clicking of cellphone buttons as a seemingly endless steam of vowelless words go whizzing through the atmosphere is almost enough to drive a reasonably sane person right up the wall.
Me: My friends and I all had jobs over summer but as soon as we were off the clock it was business as usual. If we had a day off we would grab our mountain bikes and ride the 10km to the river where we would spend the day jumping off rock, checking out hot chicks, acting like idiots, swimming and sunning ourselves. This would be followed by a quick trip to the nearest shop for an ice cream and then the return bike ride home arriving home in time for tea. This could happen 2 or 3 times a week over summer. Occasionally we'd catch a bus into the city where we'd usually walk the malls, catch a flick, grab some McDonalds and boys being boys visit the video arcades to pump Afterburner and Golden Axe full of coins.
Daughter: Has no job so bludges off of Mum & Dad and Grandparents. Mopes around the house with MP3 player, cellphone and laptop continuing her advanced degree in multitasking communications. She does occasionally go into the city centre with friends, which usually involves sushi bars, malls (no duh!), a movie and the video arcade, although the video arcades sole purpose seems to be to provide them with sticky photos of her and her friends making stupid faces and trying to be "gangsta". I really struggle with the constant chorus of "I'm bored Dad..." which invariably starts a conversation which goes something like... "Well why don't you go around to [insert friends name here?]". "Meh! Can't be biffed." "Then, why don't you call .... and ask the to come over here?" "Meh! They can't be biffed." At which point I turn in to my parents and start the obligatory "When I was your age..." lecture. ZOMG you really do turn into your parents. *sigh*
Mum does her best to keep the girls amused and out of the house during holidays, visits to museums, free/cheap shows, walks, parks etc.
Why did our parents almost have to beg to get us to stay home and today we have to beg to get our kids to leave?
Another point I find interesting is the comparison between "necessities"...
When I was a teen we needed a bike, a couple of cool t-shirts (generally with rips in them so we could be cool like the dudes in Poison), a pair of Levis, some board shorts, a pair of Reebok, Nike, Puma or Converse basketball shoes and any 1 of the 3 available deodorants.
Today. MP3 player, cellphone (with MP3 player, video, facebook, and huge text plan), 3000 t-shirts, 47 varieties of deodorant, which incidentally must be applied like the TV ads show, a 15 second continuous spray which causes respiratory failure for everyone in the house including the cat and turtles and tears the ozone layer to pieces. So much for the environmentally aware generation! There must also be a computer of some description (preferably laptop) with high speed interwebs, an iTunes account complete with allowance a second cellphone so she can take advantage of another carriers awesome text deal when the first allocation runs out. Dad must be an ATM, and life will simply end if she can't send approximately 1.6 million text messages before the end of the month.
We had no internet, no cell phones, no MP3 players (we had tape walkmans), almost nobody had a computer and if they did they were Commodore 64's or Amiga 500's, oooh the nostalgia starts to flow. We had bikes & balls (stop it! I'm referring to tennis and rugby and the like, why do you have to make everything dodgy?!) and we had immense amounts of fun. If we were unable to visit someone, we'd use the phone. It had a cord and just reached into my bedroom, we'd lay for hours on our beds and talk at length about nothing, while listening to Poison and Aerosmith. Granted the quality of conversation probably hasn't improved but at least we actually verbally spoke to each other.
One last thing before I sign off...
With all of these communication technologies at their fingertips, it seems the ancient practice of actual physical, face to face communication and interaction is dying. I am truly curious to find out if this virtual world they surround themselves in will lead to a future generation of social retards. I can picture social gatherings and events where everyone sits in a room with music playing while the guests all IM and text each other via their iPads and phones.
Please let me know know what you think, and put me straight if I'm wrong.
Stop and Think
PhillyD must be reading my mind. Check out this clip supporting my theory. (<--- clicking here should skip to the right part 3min 8secs in)
What is going on with our education system?! I’m certain that as the years go by the quality of education is steadily decreasing. A few years ago we allowed (not that we had any input or choice) our esteemed politicians to change the way secondary education was executed and assessed. At the time I could see that it was a dumbing down of an already inadequate system, that had been slowly deteriorating over the years. Our proud country once had one of the flag ship systems built on foundations of reading, writing and arithmetic. We produced a good number of well educated people.
Today we seem to be happy to settle for a system that dumbs down an already below par system. It seems to me that we’ve moved away from a “can do” or “must do” or even “will do” attitude to a “that’ll do” one.
Scaling marks is nothing new. It happened when I was at high school, but it seems, as our youth have begun to fail and the system was consistently failing to get enough over the benchmark that a very lazy and detrimental decision was made. “Let us lower the bar.” What a fantastic idea! NOT!
What the hell is this world going to achieve when our youth are being told... “If it’s too hard, don’t stress! Don’t try harder! Don’t try to better yourself! No! No! No! If it’s too hard then we’ll make it easier for you. Is that better? Do you need a hug and your teddy bear now? can I get you some milk?” And that is exactly what we are doing. We’re producing poor teacher, teaching in a poorly designed system, and teaching bad habits and mediocrity. Please, don’t be offended if you’re a teacher. I don’t have a personal vendetta against teachers, it’s the system that’s failing all around. In fact 4 members of my family are teachers (from early childhood to high school) and I have a lot of respect for them. It’s is not a job I would want to do.
It’s not just this country either. Don’t be fooled by that. Education systems are failing all around the world. Some are winning but most are failing.
Here’s an example of dumbing down our children. Now, in fairness I do have to verify these claims as they come from my teenage offspring (and stories from teenage offspring aren’t always that accurate) But she did come home from school a few weeks back and said... “Dad I think I know now what you mean by dumbing down...” This intrigued me. My ears were pricked and I was listening intently. My 15 year old continued to tell me. “I’ve got an assessment for I.C.T. (computers) next week where I’ll be able to get 3 excellence credits if I can perform all the tasks.” “Great!” I said, expecting good results here from a reasonably tech savvy teen. “what is it you need to do?” I need to turn on my computer, open my documents, modify a file and save it then turn my computer off.” We both agreed this seemed ridiculous. Bearing in mind that she only needs to achieve 80 credits (in total) throughout the school year across 6 subjects to pass. 3 excellence credits means that this simple task is worth around 4% of her total years achievement.
I think that you’ll agree when I say that the above tasks are hardly a challenge to the average (or even below average) 15 year old in any western society. In fact I would wager that most could perform this task whilst texting with one hand, listening to their iPod, Watching television and chatting on Facebook or MSN. I greatly doubt there’s a lot of conscious thought required, it’s all pretty much second nature.
What else do they have to do to get credits? Remember to breathe? Tie their shoelaces? Spell their name? Do you get excellence credits for washing your hands before you start cooking in home economics (food technology) or whatever vogue word they’re using at your local school.
Deep breath! Deep breath! Phew, Sorry starting to get carried away. I have to leave this here in the meantime, but I will be coming back to this very soon. There’s some interesting history behind our education systems that I’d like to discuss. But I need a coffee before this becomes a 300 page rant and my blood pressure gets too high ;-).
Stop and think!