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Recent Expereince with High School Kids
Old 01-31-2008, 09:05 PM   #1
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Recent Expereince with High School Kids

Last Saturday I was a judge for the American Legion Oratorical Contest in our small Vermont town. This is a program that has been going for years. HS kids have to do two things:
- Give an 8 - 10 minute prepared presentation on an aspect of the Constitution (of their own choosing). They have to speak without notes or prompting. Although the topic is of their own choosing, they're required to work in "rights and responsibilities" of citizenship.
- Give a 3 -5 minute "assigned topic" talk, also without notes. There are 5 dfferent topics, also related to the Constitution, which are known well in advance. The topic for the competition is picked out of a hat. (So, they have to have prepared for all 5 and be ready to go with one.)

I was absolutely humbled by the poise, speaking ability and knowledge of these HS kids, several of whom will go on to a state and, if successful, a national competition.

It's easy to look at kids with the baggy shorts, backwards baseball hats, earrings, etc. and tend to write them off. But I was certainly impressed with those I saw last Saturday.
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Old 01-31-2008, 09:26 PM   #2
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Originally Posted by friar1610 View Post
Last Saturday I was a judge for the American Legion Oratorical Contest in our small Vermont town. This is a program that has been going for years. HS kids have to do two things:
- Give an 8 - 10 minute prepared presentation on an aspect of the Constitution (of their own choosing). They have to speak without notes or prompting. Although the topic is of their own choosing, they're required to work in "rights and responsibilities" of citizenship.
- Give a 3 -5 minute "assigned topic" talk, also without notes. There are 5 dfferent topics, also related to the Constitution, which are known well in advance. The topic for the competition is picked out of a hat. (So, they have to have prepared for all 5 and be ready to go with one.)

I was absolutely humbled by the poise, speaking ability and knowledge of these HS kids, several of whom will go on to a state and, if successful, a national competition.

It's easy to look at kids with the baggy shorts, backwards baseball hats, earrings, etc. and tend to write them off. But I was certainly impressed with those I saw last Saturday.
1958 I had a Brill Cream duck tail, blue jeans with fold up 3-4" cuff's and was forced to sit in the Living Room eating oven cooked Swanson TV dinners watching Lawerance Welk on TV while my Father explained what a swinger he was considered in the 1930's when He got out of High School.

I take it on faith - every generation is going down the tubes - except they never do - in fact they usually do just fine.

heh heh heh - go figure??
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Old 02-01-2008, 09:01 AM   #3
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Oh, wait, bad example...
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Old 02-01-2008, 09:21 AM   #4
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It's easy to look at kids with the baggy shorts, backwards baseball hats, earrings, etc. and tend to write them off. But I was certainly impressed with those I saw last Saturday.
It's not so much how you look, it's where you are going with those looks.

So, apparently you didn't encounter any aspiring Miss Teen South Carolinas--eh?
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Old 02-04-2008, 11:57 PM   #5
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This generation works their tails off. They are better educated and harder working than we were (I'm 50 now), have a lot more maturity and focus, and know how to get what they want by working within the system.

My only fear for them (and us) is that they won't actually rebel until it's too late, and that they are so programmed into all their various organized activities that they'll be unable to deal with big messy unstructured problems when they come up.

Someone once published a pretty insightful study (though I have no way to evaluate its accuracy) showing how generations tend to have dominant personality/values and to move in cycles every 4 generations. In other words, each generation shares many characteristics with its great grandparents. This cycle is sustained by the fact that the dominant personality of each generation plants the seeds for a reaction which is carried out by the next generation. Thus an overly conforming "Silent Generation" sets the seeds for a rebellious "Me Generation" which sets the seeds for a more conservative "Millennial Generation", etc.

Not sure where this study is now, but it made a lot of sense to me and has certainly set me thinking many times since.

It explains to me why this is such a sober and hard-working generation. btw, economic conditions tend to also shape each generations' values/personality but the interaction may go both ways, with the personality type influencing the amount of risk-taking and economic activity etc, but this may all be getting a bit too speculative.
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Old 02-05-2008, 07:09 AM   #6
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This generation works their tails off. They are better educated and harder working than we were (I'm 50 now), have a lot more maturity and focus, and know how to get what they want by working within the system.

My only fear for them (and us) is that they won't actually rebel until it's too late, and that they are so programmed into all their various organized activities that they'll be unable to deal with big messy unstructured problems when they come up.

Someone once published a pretty insightful study (though I have no way to evaluate its accuracy) showing how generations tend to have dominant personality/values and to move in cycles every 4 generations. In other words, each generation shares many characteristics with its great grandparents. This cycle is sustained by the fact that the dominant personality of each generation plants the seeds for a reaction which is carried out by the next generation. Thus an overly conforming "Silent Generation" sets the seeds for a rebellious "Me Generation" which sets the seeds for a more conservative "Millennial Generation", etc.

Not sure where this study is now, but it made a lot of sense to me and has certainly set me thinking many times since.

It explains to me why this is such a sober and hard-working generation. btw, economic conditions tend to also shape each generations' values/personality but the interaction may go both ways, with the personality type influencing the amount of risk-taking and economic activity etc, but this may all be getting a bit too speculative.
I think things are all relative to one's own position.
We asked one of my oldest nephews (just turned 15 this past year,) to give us a hand in rehabbing a house. It was mostly menial labor that I wanted him to do (i.e. moving trash into a dumpster). He kept whining about how bored he was, and that he didn't really want to do that work. But when I asked him what he wanted to do, he had no answer. When I was his age, I worked my *ss off for about half as much as he was getting paid.
On the plus side, he learned a valuable lesson in money. I told him that I was going to withhold "tax" money as though he was getting a W-2, but putting that into his savings account. He was quite shocked when he got only about 55% of what he thought he'd get.

That being said, I think they are better educated than our generation. But that doesn't mean that their work ethic is necessarily much better.
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Old 02-05-2008, 07:30 AM   #7
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I've made a promise with myself never to say "back when I was a kid".

I find it funny how each generation thinks the ones after do not value hard work, or the value of a dollar or how can they listen to that music etc...

When in truth each generation is the same. My Father growing up in the 40's had my Grandfather get on him for not working, he turned out ok. My Father got on me, and I seem to get up and work each day. Times change but people are all the same.

I hated to cut the grass when I was a kid, and whined the whole time (My Dad still made me do it). Now I cut my grass each week because I have to. The kids today will work when they get older because they have to.
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Old 02-05-2008, 08:12 AM   #8
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I've made a promise with myself never to say "back when I was a kid".

I find it funny how each generation thinks the ones after do not value hard work, or the value of a dollar or how can they listen to that music etc...

When in truth each generation is the same. My Father growing up in the 40's had my Grandfather get on him for not working, he turned out ok. My Father got on me, and I seem to get up and work each day. Times change but people are all the same.

I hated to cut the grass when I was a kid, and whined the whole time (My Dad still made me do it). Now I cut my grass each week because I have to. The kids today will work when they get older because they have to.
I don't know, perhaps I'm a little different than most.
I was working by the age of 12. Cutting grass in the neighborhood, shoveling snow off sidewalks/driveways in the winter. And I did it solely to earn money to pay for the things I wanted to buy. I didn't do it because my dad forced me to. I am also very allergic to freshly cut grass, and suffered from asthma during my early years.
I started working during the summer months with my father on the truck when I was 15. He worked for a moving company at the time. It was all money "under the table", since I couldn't legally work until I was 16. I kept doing that that until I was 18.
My parents did have to get on me to clean up my room, etc.
I agree that the kids today will work when they get older because they have to.
That being said, I'm happy that we can "spoil" our children. We just bought 2 new laptops for them to use (along with a beefier one for me & wifey).
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Old 02-05-2008, 08:29 AM   #9
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As far as their work ethic, what I've seen is that they work hard at school work, but not as often at 'real work' There are far fewer kids doing part time jobs these days (I've seen some statistics on this that show there is enough impact to actually tip the US unemployment rate down since so many teens are not displacing older workers). They do structured activities in sports, school, travel etc. But when it comes to joining the workforce, dealing with real world issues I do worry about them. This could be behind the "Boomerang Kids" phenomenon where successful kids come home after college and just stay there, unable or unwilling to get off the Mom & Dad gravy train and deal with things like establishing a basic apartment for themselves, or even getting a job and dealing with being at the bottom of the totem pole.

And how can rehabbing a house ever be as exciting as blowing away your friends in Halo?

My (boomer) generation has been very hard working too, but raised with more benign neglect has a well-rounded sense of empowerment to get things done. We were left alone a lot and just figured out how to do stuff. (Sometimes we got into trouble for it, too! ) As parents we just do things ourselves because we can and because we find it easier than dealing with a kid who will do something in a half-baked way after repeated requests. So the kids are being raised without that much experience doing anything that isn't aimed pretty tightly on a bright target such as college admissions or something sports achievement related. They're really diligent at that -- intellectual and sports stuff. It's everything else I worry about.

I think that boomer parents decided it was the way to keep the kids from getting into drugs and related trouble -- keeping them highly scheduled and programmed. And again, the statistics suggest it has helped. How this all plays out as they become adults will be interesting, though...
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Old 02-05-2008, 08:35 AM   #10
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As far as their work ethic, what I've seen is that they work hard at school work, but not as often at 'real work' There are far fewer kids doing part time jobs these days (I've seen some statistics on this that show there is enough impact to actually tip the US unemployment rate down since so many teens are not displacing older workers). They do structured activities in sports, school, travel etc. But when it comes to joining the workforce, dealing with real world issues I do worry about them. This could be behind the "Boomerang Kids" phenomenon where successful kids come home after college and just stay there, unable or unwilling to get off the Mom & Dad gravy train and deal with things like establishing a basic apartment for themselves, or even getting a job and dealing with being at the bottom of the totem pole.

And how can rehabbing a house ever be as exciting as blowing away your friends in Halo?

My (boomer) generation has been very hard working too, but raised with more benign neglect has a well-rounded sense of empowerment to get things done. We were left alone a lot and just figured out how to do stuff. (Sometimes we got into trouble for it, too! ) As parents we just do things ourselves because we can and because we find it easier than dealing with a kid who will do something in a half-baked way after repeated requests. So the kids are being raised without that much experience doing anything that isn't aimed pretty tightly on a bright target such as college admissions or something sports achievement related. They're really diligent at that -- intellectual and sports stuff. It's everything else I worry about.

I think that boomer parents decided it was the way to keep the kids from getting into drugs and related trouble -- keeping them highly scheduled and programmed. And again, the statistics suggest it has helped. How this all plays out as they become adults will be interesting, though...
Yep, I agree. I'm on the tail end of the boomers (1964). However, we (wife and I) are forcing the kids to do things, even if it means "nagging" them.
And I look forward to seeing how the "highly scheduled and programmed" route takes the younguns.
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Old 02-06-2008, 05:13 AM   #11
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Observation of my own 17 yr old DD:

Positive (all her own doing since we are not the pushing types):
  1. steady part time job since 14 (bussing to waitressing). Almost full time during summer and 10hrs/wk during school year, modest saver and mostly frugal spender
  2. graduating one year early, decent grades
  3. license the day she turned 16 and managing her own car at 17 (we bought her 2003 Legacy instead of her buying something cheap and unsafe)
  4. 6 year commitment to track team (pole vaulting and jumping) and Snow board instructor at local bunny hill this winter
  5. still brushes off the boys
Not so positive:
  1. extremely lazy around the house (bedroom and bathroom are ongoing war zones) despite all the badgering
  2. seriously grounded a couple times a year for pushing freedom limits (sneaking out to parties)
  3. tons more time spent socializing instead of studying (sort of gets away with it in high school but doubtful it will work in college)
  4. extremely moody and not so nice to her younger sister (DW warned me about teenage female hormones but I wasn't even close to being prepared)
  5. for all her work ethic she's still very complacent about money, saving, and spending
Actually I feel quite lucky and agree that this generation is no worse or better than ours or any others, just a different set of circumstances to deal with, and exhbiting just as much individual variation. Interesting that the restaurant job has taught her that she wants "something much better" but also that her non-working non-driving friends who are allowance-ride dependent are a lot more constrained than she is despite the work hours she chooses to put in.

As long as I'm rambling on about the unusual nature of teenage females; her first driving lesson she actually asked me in a shakey voice which way to turn the wheel to make the car go right or left. 12 months later she is running up to her room crying because I won't let her drive into town with a half inch of solid ice on the roads. Go figure
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Old 02-06-2008, 07:01 AM   #12
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As long as I'm rambling on about the unusual nature of teenage females; her first driving lesson she actually asked me in a shakey voice which way to turn the wheel to make the car go right or left. 12 months later she is running up to her room crying because I won't let her drive into town with a half inch of solid ice on the roads. Go figure
I thought only us guys did this?
When we were young (and dumb and full of ), we used to hitch a ride on the backs of cars when there was enough ice on the streets. Most of the time, it was on the tail end of cars that we got unstuck from snow embankments, and we couldn't afford to put gas in our cars but wanted to go to the local 7-Eleven.
With 3 girls (and one boy), I'm really not looking forward to those teenage female years.
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Old 02-06-2008, 08:02 AM   #13
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Observation of my own 17 yr old DD:


As long as I'm rambling on about the unusual nature of teenage females; her first driving lesson she actually asked me in a shakey voice which way to turn the wheel to make the car go right or left. 12 months later she is running up to her room crying because I won't let her drive into town with a half inch of solid ice on the roads. Go figure

Oh man does that bring back a memory. I told the daughter NOT to take her car out on an icy day back 14 years ago on the phone from work only to arrive home and see her car with the rear end missing from the car on top of a snowbank. She was not hurt but the car was toast. Hit a nice patch of ice and the car went where it wanted to go, over a 1 foot curb taking said rear with it.
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