It wasn’t all that long that I’ve been out of college, so maybe I shouldn’t being saying “kids these days,” but still, when I’ve been in schools in the past few years, I can’t help but notice a pitiful lack of respect toward authority. Sure, some educators have a knack for commanding that respect, gaining it regardless of their audience, however, most of us would like to enjoy the basic decent treatment provided to those who are trying to help others.
I volunteer in a classroom once a week, and week after week as I’m on my way home, I ponder how the students in that room can be so utterly disinterested in school, learning, and just doing their work. On top of that, as you could guess from my previous paragraph, they do not seem to care what adults think of them. Most of them are rude to teachers and rude to each other. Why, oh, WHY? And what can be done about this?
I don’t believe that children who misbehave are very happy. And I’m not implying that all well-behaved children are in a state of complete bliss. However, happy people generally do not go around trying to displease others. They are content and strive to stay that way. But if misery does love company, unhappy people seem to be good at bringing sadness, stress, and other unhappy feelings upon others. Why are these kids unhappy? Why don’t they care what the teachers think of them? Better yet, why don’t they care what their parents think? This final question is what most bothers me.
One of the students told me that the problem in his particular class is that there are no rules. Of course, rules do exist, but perhaps they are not clearly stated or enforced. I know teachers are responsible for creating lessons that are interesting and motivating, but do they have to be entertainers, too? Shouldn’t children have to learn that they are responsible for at least some self-motivation in completing work, listening in class, and respecting adults? Some might think that teachers should simply send these students out of the classroom (to the principal, behavior room, etc.) so that the remaining students can learn. I agree, usually. But when the kids get sent out only to return time after time to do the same misbehavior, aren’t they going to eventually act up just to get out of a boring day in class?
In the end, what makes students decide they would rather act out than do their work? How much of a connection is there between a kid’s life at home and their behavior at school? From what I’ve been able to piece together about the home lives of the students I work with (I’m aware that what they tell me may not be the objective truth), I am not really surprised that they have little motivation to behave appropriately in school. Lots of their time at home is spent alone, watching TV/movies or playing video games. Yes, yes, we’ve heard this complaint before, but honestly, aren’t we settling by allowing this kind of life for our kids?
If parents have to work late and cannot be home with their children after school, it would be nice if they could somehow provide their kids (I am thinking about middle-schoolers here) with supervision by adults who can be some sort of mentor for the young person. My child isn’t in school yet, so maybe I should be waiting to weigh in on this subject until I’m sure my own child isn’t one of those I’m currently wondering about. But I’m not going to wait because I would really like to know what parents of school-aged children have to say about this. I want to know what I can be doing to make sure my own children will respect their teachers and make the most of their education. Since I am a certified teacher, I am especially interested in knowing what exactly parents believe that teachers could realistically be doing to improve the behavior of their students in their classrooms.
And what do you think? Why do these problems with respect seem different from what teachers have faced throughout history? Are kids these days different from those of past generations?