Friday, June 8, 2012

Hey Millennials! You're Not Special!

Great speech today by David McCullough, Jr, son of the historian, who himself, is an English teacher. It gets really good at 3:00.

Quite a profound speech, I must say. As an educator, I have, time and time again, seen this culture of entitlement and inflated sense of self. I've seen administrators fix grades over teachers' heads for students who don't deserve them, I've seen students who think they are owed an A because "they tried really hard," (their parents make this same argument) I've seen students who think they are owed a living because their parents' social/financial stature. This is a very dangerous road we are leading our youth down, as it remains to be seen how they will react to rejection, be it from a college, in a job or in a relationship. I've read some of the letters from the parents of rejected students that friends who are admissions officers have shown me over the years and the tone fully aligns with the trend in American society McCullough has so clearly described. Furthermore, with the way this economy is now, millennials' massive egos and sense of self may not be able to emotionally handle the extreme competition they face in the job market.

Parents need to remind their children a few things, and the schools need to reinforce it. Most importantly, to always be learning-lifetime learning is the theory that the learning process is never-ending. It continues outside the schoolhouse doors through travel experiences (learning new cultures and customs), work (interpersonal relations, skill building, learning to interact with different personalities) and especially reading. I cannot stress the aspect of reading enough! It may help them to discover new talents, as well as hone known talents. Millennials should read all they can on something they know about, but shouldn't be so closed-minded to read on a topic which they know nothing. That knowledge could lead to new opportunities and open new doors in the future.

Once that talent is discovered, either already known or as a result of lifetime learning, Millennials must perfect it, market it and find a way it can allow them to find their way and make money. Honing and perfecting that talent will truly allow them to become "special." Being special is not a designation that should be bestowed upon someone, instead, it should be earned.

There is a way out, but it may be considered extreme by some. Parents need to "get out of the helicopter" and take a step back from their childrens' lives. Doing this at a young age will strengthen this generation's (and future generations) resolve so that they may more easily deal with rejection, clearly learn the differences between good and bad, learn for themselves, discover their passions and in the end, earn that title of "special."

David McCullough's message is strong and should be consistently repeated in schools, homes and in American society; be it politics and popular culture. The country will be better off in years to come!

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