I spend a lot of time on the Internet. That’s a dangerous occupation for an optimist. I see memes and posts about how the future is doomed based on a few kids who don’t know how to spell without Spellcheck or can’t recognize the President, but know who SpongeBob is.
I get it: They’re not the most shining example of intellect our country has to offer.
But what the heck are you doing about it?
Sitting and whining about how dumb the next generation is accomplishes nothing. I’ll admit, sometimes I disparage our future and theirs from time to time. But just as my hope beings to fade, I turn to the kids in my life.
I am a speech and debate coach and my kids give me hope. They inspire me to want to be better. Their earnest attempts at communicating a message remind me that nothing changes without an impetus to do so. If I am upset about the lack of grammar being used by the younger generation (and ours too, let’s be real) then I have to work harder to influence the kids in my life who have that problem.
And some day, when I become a teacher I will continue that work.
As much as I teach these kids about what it means to be articulate, to transcend the barriers around us and to reach someone, they teach me the same. I am inspired by their faith in me and in themselves. It’s truly magical to watch inspiration take hold.
As educational reformer and politician Horace Mann said, “A teacher who is attempting to teach without inspiring the pupil with a desire to learn is hammering on cold iron.”
I try to inspire them with faith, instead of doubt; with encouragement and thoughtful criticism instead of sarcasm and trolling. And in turn, they teach me to believe anew.
So the next time you think to yourself something disparaging about the kids younger than us, keep it to yourself. Until you step up to the plate to do something about it, you have no right to complain. If you want to see them change, help them to do it.
I’m not saying everyone has to choose teaching as their profession in order to be a teacher. We have opportunities to inspire the children and our peers constantly, but it is up to us to be brave enough to take them.
It’s easy to stand on the sidelines and criticize, but it’s also useless.
Reach the columnist at Alexandria.firstname.lastname@example.org or follow her at @Lexij41.