BETTER AT SCHOOL BACK-TO-SCHOOL REPORT
THE PLAGUE OF OUR EDUCATION SYSTEM:
THE ASSISTED DISTRACTED KID
Let’s not beat around the bush and get straight to the point. There are 2 main issues going on with American kids at the moment:
1- The American education system is creating new generations of ASSISTED KIDS who are incapable of making their own decisions and taking charge of their life.
“Taking charge of their life?”, you protest… “ Aren’t they a bit young?”
At any age, people, may they be kids or adults, need to take charge of their life at their own levels. Of course I don’t want to 12-year-old to balance the checkbook (although it might not be a completely useless thing to learn already…) but they should certainly be able to get their bag ready for school, know what homework they have to do and remember to give you that all important flyer they got in class today.
Unfortunately, for whatever reason schools might use to justify their ways, any form of responsibility is more and more removed from kids in school.
They don’t need to write down their homework in their agenda (like in the good old days when I went to school), because their teacher will put it somewhere online for them to see.
They don’t need to remember to bring pens or pencils to school because the teacher will lend them some if they forget.
Everything is excused and everything is simplified to the most so that kids have to think as little as possible.
And this goes beyond school life too: Have you observed how hard it is for kids to plan and commit to anything? This birthday party, or that one, or the movies, or the game… maybe, well, I’m not sure, it depends, yeah,
we’ll see… They wait until the last minute in case some sort of imaginary other great opportunity presents itself to trump everything else. And when nothing happens, well… nothing happens. Nobody in the group ever made a decision so everything falls through… If nobody does it for you, then it doesn’t get done. Simple.
I could go into the reasons behind the trend, but it doesn’t really matter why this is happening. The fact is that kids are totally assisted as they are growing up and this is creating generations of young people who are incapable to think for themselves, who are less and less resourceful and have no initiative whatsoever.
Young new hires need to be told everything. They can’t just figure out what needs to be done. They wait for simple instructions, do that and wait for the next set of instructions. If you forgot to specify that, once the envelope was sealed, you were supposed to put it into the outgoing tray, it won’t happen. You don’t believe me? Ask people who just hired a 20-year-old…
Solutions? Well, yes, there are solutions. But let me get into the second symptom of the plague:
2- We allow and encourage kids to stay distracted and end up with Kids who have no attention span! I say no attention span because, really, most of the time, short is not even close to describing the problem!
Do I want to blame electronics for this? Well, not really. The phone or the computer didn’t randomly land in your kids’ hands... Someone put it there, and usually, that someone was you. And, what you allow them to do with it is and for how long is what we have to address.
Education experts keep making excuses for kid’s not paying attention instead of trying to nip it in the bud. Teachers give little toys to kids to fiddle with because, apparently, they can focus better… Up until all they do is focus on just that. And when it is not that, it’s their shoe or their pen or their hair… And concerned parents fall for it because they trust the experts!
Distraction is everywhere, not just in their phones. The phone only develops their ability to get distracted. The bottom line is to create a balance and to make sure that there is a time and place for the use of electronics. The dinner table is not one of them. Neither is the homework table!
Did you ever try to observe kids who are “doing homework” on the computer or with the phone of the table? Have you ever added up the time they are actually wasting going from what screen to another?
Not to mention the fact that once you got distracted, you have to start again whatever you were doing. No wonder your kids end up with 4 hours worth of homework!! But how much time did they actually spend on the homework itself?
The issue is that we allow and encourage kids to be distracted. Just observe kids watching TV or their favorite Netflix show. They’ll have their phone with them and be chatting with friends, sending a snap, looking at youtube videos or whatever else. We need to disallow this. PERIOD. You watch TV or you are on the phone. And do try to lead by example...
When it comes to homework, if it is online, make sure that your kids have the one tab they need open and have closed all these other fun apps that send notifications. Every little pop up is several minutes wasted. Don’t think that it will be just the few seconds wasted reading the headline, or the all-important announcement that X sent you a new message.
Once you interrupt what you were in the middle of, you have to go back. If you were reading a paragraph, you have to go back to at least a couple of sentences to get back into it. If you were solving a math problem, you have to start all over.
So, add the few seconds it took your kids to read the notification, plus the going backwards and multiply this by 10 every 5 or 10 minutes and you’ll see why your kids take so long to do homework. Then do the calculation backwards and you’ll know exactly how long they should have taken.
And yes, you need to monitor that at first and create good habits. I promise you that when your kids realize they can do their homework in about half the time and then have all this free time to do as they please, they won’t need to be told anymore.
Indeed, the real key is to create good habits, starting as early as possible. Distracting factors are only growing and trends taking over people’s lives are more and more common. Look at Pokemon Go! For a few weeks, there was nothing else! And now? Gone! But next week, there’ll be a new one!
And if the distraction is too much talking on the phone, or too much time playing basketball or soccer, or too much time playing chess, we go back to the same thing: Once your kids realize that focusing on one thing is beneficial to their own passion, they won’t complain. You just have to show it to them by having them EXPERIENCE it. Until they do, you know you’ll be the last person they’ll believe, right?
So, if you want to lead by example and let your kids think that the idea wasn’t yours, there are simple ways to create good habits and have good discipline in your home and at school - Good old-fashioned ways to get your kids back on track.