*Disclaimer: This is a bit of a rant.
I apologize in advance.
I had to get this off my chest.
As a child, I remember hearing the phrase, “You don’t get something for nothing,” and I realized that in order to get something, I needed to earn it. Whether this was referring to earning grades, awards, or money, it was the same idea. You get from life what you put into it. I understood the concept that hard work would be rewarded and no one wins at everything. Hard work, dedication, and perseverance were keys to success.
The same concept seems to be neither taught nor understood by this current generation of children, the generation that includes my own children as well as the students I teach. I think this school year has been my most frustrating one out of the sixteen that I have been teaching. I don’t think I have ever had so many students angry with me because they did not receive an ‘A’ in my class for just being present in the room on a regular basis. The amount or quality of the “work” that they turned in or whether or not they actually turned in any work at all seemed to be of no consequence. They felt they should get a passing grade just because they came to class, just because they were nice, just because they got an ‘A’ on that one assignment that one time, etc.
It is extremely frustrating!
When did we start teaching kids that just because they are alive, the universe and all of the people in it owe them something? When did we start teaching kids that everyone is equal in talent and ability at everything? When did we start teaching kids that having a talent meant that they didn’t have to work hard because that talent would just carry them along to success?
I see it every day. Students who earn high test scores on standardized tests automatically seem to believe that their test scores entitle them to an ‘A’ in a class, that the mediocre work that they turn in to the teacher is acceptable and they don’t need to do any more than that. I see talented singers and dancers at the school who think that they don’t need to actually rehearse for a performance, that they can just get on stage and magic will happen. It’s in the struggling learner who feels that because everyone knows that it’s harder for them to learn, that they shouldn’t really have to work at all, that the teacher should just have sympathy as well as low expectations and gift them with a passing grade.
I thought that as a teacher that it was my responsibility to prepare my students for the real world. Not a test, but the REAL world. A world where they will hold jobs that will require them to be on time, to work hard, to give their very best. A world where the electric company doesn’t have sympathy for you if you forget to pay your bill on time. A world where people who work hard and practice and never give up can become successful as compared to people who just eagerly await their next handout.
I’m sorry if others don’t agree with me, but I feel as if we are doing our children a horrible disservice by not expecting them to be responsible, by allowing them to believe that everyone’s a winner even if they did nothing, by making excuses for them instead of holding them accountable for their actions or inaction.
Will it kill a child to earn a failing grade when they didn’t do an assignment? Will it kill a child not to make a team when there were other more talented, hard-working kids who tried out? Will it kill a child for him/her to be told that they need be helpful, productive members of a household and not just sit back and wait to be served by their parents?
This sense of entitlement that my students and other children their age have right now is infuriating. It’s even more frustrating when I have students who do work hard every day, students who are extremely bright as well as students who are considered struggling learners, who EARN the good grades that they receive from me. Students who ask questions, do homework, follow directions, redo assignments to improve their grade, pay attention to the lessons taught, and seek extra help when needed. These are the students who make coming to work worth it. I pray that it’s just a fluke that maybe it’s just this school year, but these hard-working students seem to be becoming the minority instead of the majority. I hope and I pray that next year will be a better year and that I will continue to have the love and passion for teaching that I’ve always had.
With all of this in mind, I refuse to allow my own children to grow up with a sense of entitlement. My husband and I are teaching them how to be industrious, well-rounded, giving, caring, young adults who are productive citizens. When my children fall short of a goal or get a low grade on something that I know that they did not put their best effort into or didn’t take seriously, I won’t coddle them but rather help them to evaluate what they did wrong or what they can do in the future not to have the same results. Similarly, when they work hard and achieve a goal, when they do something to serve someone else without expecting something in return, even when they try their hardest but still fail, I will praise them and let them know that I see and appreciate their efforts.
Parents, model for your kids the concept of working hard for what you want. Hold them accountable. Make them responsible. Give them chores. Expect good grades. Teach them manners. Create respectful, productive, hard-working young men and women.
The world deserves it (and so do their teachers).