MENTAL NOTE

"Though we cannot make our sun stand still, yet we will make him run."
Blue, resist the urge to use facebook. You can do it. Good luck.
Cats and dogs can be friends. So can cowboys and indians. So can we.
Why try to be the best when there's no hierarchy in heaven?

Wednesday, April 12, 2017

When Instant Gratification Is NOT On the Menu

My poor students are so upset. They actually have to work hard in my classroom to get a good grade. Sometimes, like today, I feel tempted to just hand out college degrees and ask them if that would make the tears go away. Consider it the equivalent of getting an ice-cream after hurting your little knee when you fell on that bad, bad pavement.


Yes, they have to buckle down and focus in Bootcamp Blue Guy, and guess what: they don't like it one bit. And who can blame them when every grain in their body tells them they are the best (or so their parents and at least a thousand selfies tell them), they know everything there is to know (they somehow think), and there's this thing called the internet to tell them ever so kindly what is what and who is who, all at the click of a frigging button. Instant gratification is the new sweat and tears, my friends, and we'd better get used to it lest their vengeful wrath be known! And when I say, "wrath," I mean tantrums and sulks ad infinitum, Facebook rants included. It's quite a spectacle to see intelligent grown-ups act like spoiled little brats. "This is too hard! I don't like it when it's so hard!" Oh come on! Don't you know hard is good? Hard is the only way. (Get your mind out of the gutter.)

My mother taught me practice makes perfect. She taught me there is no shame in giving it your all and failing the first time around. Study. Discover. Try again. Work it out. Nothing will come of nothing. She taught me that a buck found was not the same as buck earned. Which makes me wonder what some parents teach their kids today. Smile into the camera and call it an achievement? I say this because I've been a college professor for twenty years and I've noticed, let's say, an unwelcome change creeping into my students' attitude toward studying and a strong work ethic.

Let me give you an example. When I ask them to read a couple of lines out loud, they give me this look that says, Oh darn, I have to do something, and then, after reading two or three lines they just stop and give me this other look that says, Do I really need to continue? because reading three lines is, of course, serious business, not to mention borderline torture, so I'd better have some pleasant reward up my sleeve to soothe them. Or when I ask them to study five pages, it's like all hell is about to break loose. "Five? That many?" Yes, that many. Hard work builds character. Sighing does not. Copying and pasting somebody else's hard work does not. Using an app to find the answers you're looking for (and not remembering a single thing in the process) does not. Don't they know studying five pages does not constitute an impressive amount by far? Or maybe it does... today.

How my students deal with failure is like the icing on the cake, because they don't. They can't handle disappointment. Whenever I'm discussing something challenging, they give up and turn silent. Life is not supposed to be this hard! College is not supposed to be this hard! God knows it certainly is not supposed to take up so much of their time. Time they'd rather spend online counting their new friends. Don't we teachers know they are leading busy lives? Don't we know they don't have time for this shit? (Pardon my Swedish.) Yes, sir, we have raised an entire generation of princes and princesses who seem to think they deserve the easy way out simply... because. Because they are who they are... princes and princesses, but let's keep it on the down low and stick our heads in the sand.

No?

* * *


48 comments:

  1. Y E S!!!!!
    I am SO GLAD I don't have any "young adults" in my life in these times...geesh...what a bunch of babies...

    There...

    I totally agree with you...

    Hi Blue!!

    Cheers!
    Linda :o)

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    1. Hi Linda! There... you totally agree with me and I love it. No surprise there, rigjt? Now, where's that drink? O wait... I'm on a diet.

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    2. Diet?
      Good lord why?
      Happy Easter Blue....💐
      Some tulips for you!

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    3. My health. Thanks for the tulips! They don't happen to be edible, do they?

      Happy Easter!

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  2. My mother's a teacher and I long decided not to touch that profession. There are good kids but those bad apples...damn them.

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  3. We have spoken about this at length in my family - my Dad, my sis & I. My sis has a (now) 17 year old & we were concerned about how she would cope at not being the best or successful at everything. Her grandmother (my mum) has told her her whole life that she is the best at everything she does. Thank goodness she has a great work ethic & other peeps in her life to remind her you cant be the best at everything & not being the best doesn't make it not worthwhile to try.

    I loved to read out loud in class - maybe I'm a show off LOL!!!

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    1. Maybe you're just not lazy. I know you're not lazy, Ms. Marathon. :)

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  4. Another blogger this past week wrote about self esteem and awarding kids just basically for showing up, instead of just handing out trophies for the ones that achieved and worked hard. I totally agree with what he was saying. I did comment that at 13 months old, my grandson is looking for praise when he does something new and claps and expects us to clap along. Its fine at 13 months, but not into elementary school and beyond. By college, kids should be at the top of their game so to speak and realize it is important to study, to attend class, to participate if they want to get anywhere in life. God help us; this is the generation that will be taking care of us when we age.......

    betty

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    1. Could you give me the link to that post, betty? I'd like to read it.

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  5. Loud applause from here.
    When I learned that my nephews were having graduation ceremonies (complete with mortar board and certificates) from KINDERGARTEN I shuddered. And sighed.
    I do wonder how these indulged and fragile souls will cope with real disappointment. And fear not well.

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    1. Real disappointment will drive them to despair and Netflix.

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    2. Of course. Not to mention the mother of inventions: the selfie stick.

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  6. I still have one son in college. He told me that last month, a girl in one oif his classes sent out a mass email to the other students complaining about the teacher and some of the assignments. It cracked my son up, because he said it's his easiest class!

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  7. I've always said that today's kids need generals and drill sergeants in classrooms not teachers. There is no discipline in them whatsofreakingevah. I also vote for beating rascals with a cane in schools!

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    1. Whatsofreakingevah... Excellent coinage. I knew you were into spanking but beatings?

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  8. It is sooooooooooooo pathetic. I went to a job interview and they gave you 2 hours to write the test they gave us. I was done in 20 minutes and they asked me 50 times was I sure I wanted to pass it in so soon. Everybody else was acting like it was the hardest thing in the world. The "essay" for it was 50 friggin words maximum. If that is an essay, I'm a rhyming frog.

    You learn a lot more from failing than you do from winning most times, that is how one gets better. But with parents and teachers and coaches, etc. always saying they are the best and pushing them along, kids never learn that. And you can't hurt their little feelings, pffffffffffffffffffft. Bunch of prissy pansies is all kids are these days. Think they should be handed it all for nothing. Bounce their damn head off the wall, maybe that will beat some common sense into them.

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    1. So true. You learn more from failing than you do from winning. And a buck earned teaches you more than a buck found. Today a student said, "Do I need to read everything?" (five lines or so) and I told her about this post I wrote on whiners. You should've seen the look on her face.

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    2. lmao maybe she'll search you out
      Then like English Class you may have to no longer shout
      5 lines is really really sad
      Like you're asking them to drive you to the moon at their pad

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  9. Mweh... I'm going to jump on those kids' bandwagon for a bit because my feet are tired and I am tired and life is hard. Maybe you'll take it easy on me if I try to blend in? :)

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    1. That bandwagon is getting pretty crowded ;)

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  10. I, too, am tired of a society in which people are rewarded just for participating in something, because, no, no, we can't have "losers," now can we?!?

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  11. We keep hearing about college students needing safe spaces, and they are constantly ranting about one thing or another. We've raised kids to get participating trophies for nothing more than showing up. How are these college kids going to behave out in the real world with real jobs that don't give them safe spaces and participating trophies. How did things change so drastically. My daughter is almost 26 and she said some of the new younger employees get frustrated when they actually have to show up, do their job and can't play on their phones because you have to leave your phones in your lockers and if your caught with them other than at lunch or on a break...you get fired. No second chances. These people just can't understand that way of thinking.

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    1. No second chances... Now there's a novel idea... a full-blown incentive in my book.

      I don't know things changed so drastically, Mary.

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  12. Kids of today
    Lamenting what to play
    'There are no good games
    They all look the same'
    No inclination to discover
    Not taking what's on offer
    Don't they know it needs hard work
    Will come with lots of efforts
    There are rare ones that shine
    Parents clamor to claim, 'that's mine'

    Hank

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  13. Dude,

    Let this thought sink in: the millennials are the baby boomers' children.
    The baby boomers were the most entitled generation in human history...
    and these are their delicate little prince and princess children...

    Our course participants are generally between the ages of 18 and 65, and the brackets born between 1946 and 1970 are baby boomers. Those born between 1981 and 2000 are called millennials. They are both "big" generations, unlike our generation x (born in the seventies). I find that early boomers (1946-1950) are mostly OK to deal with. They were born right after the war, and they still know that nothing good comes easy. Those born between 1950 and 1965, however, were listening to punk records in the late seventies and early eighties, landed good jobs without much effort in the eighties and saw their homes quadruple in value in the nineties. They took good care of themselves, and demographic trends and the nature of our democracy (the majority always rules) allowed them to do so. Really, look at the way our retirement funds and fiscal system are set up.

    Let's now focus on their kids, the millennials. Let's try to imagine this scenario: your mum and dad met at a punk concert in 1979 smoking grass in the bathroom. They are generally groovy people with a permissive attitude that tend to believe everything that undermines old-fashioned hard work and effort (seen as conservative), and they are going to allow their kids to be everything they themselves could not be (in short, make it even worse). Couple this with a cyber-infested culture of accommodation and instant gratification, those ever-present radiant dreams of silicon valley cyber-billionaires, musically incompetent yet excessively remunerated DJ's, and constant narcissistic bombardments on social media of stupid people making it big - and you are faced with a pernicious psycho-social pandemic that has the potential to completely erode intrinsic motivation. Still, most of these kids turn out alright - but that's in spite of everything. We can make that difference and be that narrow escape for them - tell them to read Brave New World and 1984. I will be that James Bond after they have experienced a lifetime of Pee-wee Hermans. I can do this. Sign me up.

    Mr. G.

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    1. Thanks for the post within a post. You might be on to something, though I don't know that they know what 1984 is all about. Isn't it ironic?

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  14. Be careful, Blue. You might shatter their fragile, sensitive egos *eye roll* Around here, kids get trophies for everything. They get a pat on the back for showing up and trying so by the time they get to college, they aren't prepared. Forget the workplace. I see college graduates come into our work eager to start out at the top level management...um, no. You actually have to earn that position. Go grab some files and start digging in, it's gonna be awhile before you get your own office, let alone a management position. This whole mentality of "I want it right now!" has got to stop and I think it begins with our kids inside our own homes.

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    1. Yes, I'd better be careful or they might sue my butt, all right. I agree... I don't think they even know what earning something means.

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  15. We are preparing to send my daughter to college this fall. As we were in Target getting a head start on dorm essentials, I saw a little teepee and asked her if she needed that for her "safe-space" when life gets too tough in college. It was just a joke though. While politically, her and I butt heads, she is not one to shy away from hard work to get what she wants. I dare say that she is one of the few millennials who strives to succeed in her education without complaint, even when the work is overwhelming. I feel very proud when I watch her interact with her soon-to-be professors every time we do college preview days.

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    1. I'm not surprised one bit that your kid is one tough cookie. You have every reason to be proud, Theresa. Thank you for sharing that. :)

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  16. I have to agree with you on this Blue. A super entitled bunch of ninnies! What I find most irritating about them is their "me" attitude. You can speak to them about a situation you are facing or a problem you went through and there is no empathy or advice, just a quick about-face to turn it back into a story about them or to simply change the subject. I wonder though if our parents didn't feel the same about our generation as they got older. I know that with age comes wisdom and with wisdom comes impatience. Regardless, I feel for you having to deal with them as a teacher.

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    1. So kind of you to say that. I've been wondering, too, if maybe this observation of mine is just the result of getting older, but I know for a fact that my mother taught me not to expect a reward with no work done. In fact, I was taught to never expect a reward, period. No one ever treated me like a prince, thank goodness.

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  17. What a post and what a great selection of comments too.

    I too wonder how did things change so drastically, and change they have.

    I've copied 'EC's comment because everything she said I agree with

    "Loud applause from here.
    When I learned that my nephews were having graduation ceremonies (complete with mortar board and certificates) from KINDERGARTEN I shuddered. And sighed.
    I do wonder how these indulged and fragile souls will cope with real disappointment. And fear not well."

    I will just add that for nephew it was one of our grandchildren dressed for a KINDERGARTEN graduation ceremony ... we just couldn't believe it !!!

    On a slightly different note have a great weekend

    All the best Jan

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    1. Excellent comment. Thank you, Jan. Enjoy the weekend.

      Blue

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  18. Bravo!! Excellent post Blue Grumpster!! It makes me nervous, thinking that these students coming up, will be looking after me! You know what I mean? What is this world going to look like??
    My friend, is a college professor and she said, there is no "failing" anymore!! What??? What does that mean?? Everyone passes! Shit no! You do the work! It's getting all to crazy! Even when I go out, I don't like being around the younger generation! It's just so sad! They can't even rake leaves or talk probably in a conversation!!!
    (Hope you're having a great weekend! Big Hugs and Happy Easter!)

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    1. Yes, I know what you mean. Maybe we need to look after ourselves just to be sure. There's no failing? How sad is that... Everybody is a winner.

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  19. Just reading everyone's comments!! I agree with them all! Especially them having a "me" attitude!!!

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    1. Yes, excellent comments across the board :)

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  20. I was here but I guess I got spirited away. I return and new post. You're on the ball Blue. But to comment, I do agree. A few are Ok but I think it depends on the parents. My grandkids....OMG.....They are my legacy???? And if I hear one more "awsome" you'll hear my scream in .....where is that you are, again?

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    1. I hear ya (no pun intended). But wait a minute... if the parents are to blame, did you just tell me your kid isn't doing a great job? Say it ain't so... I agree, though. It's the parents' fault. This isn't rocket science.

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    2. Some things are better left unsaid

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    3. That's as true as the gold I don't have. :)

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