Superintendent’s Corner: The Kids Are Alright

Four teenagers smiling
“Kids these days! They don’t know how good they have it. They only think of themselves. They act like they know everything. They waste all their time on TikToK.” Have you ever heard somebody say stuff like that? Maybe I run in the wrong crowd, but I hear that kind of thing every now and then. Which, of course, got me thinking…
 
One of the books I am reading is about the USS Plunkett, a destroyer that saw action in the Atlantic between 1942 and 1946. In the first chapter, the author quoted politicians of the day (late 1930’s) who were afraid of the war ahead. The main reason? Our nation’s leaders felt their kids were not up to the challenge. After all, they hadn’t been to war and their childhood was the ‘roaring 20’s. Really? The Americans we now call the ‘greatest generation’ didn’t measure up? At least not at first.
 
So, I did a bit of research and found this is not a new thing- “The world is passing through troubled times. The young people of today think of nothing but themselves. They have no reverence for parents or old age. They are impatient of all restraint. They talk as if they know everything.” (Peter the Hermit 1274).
 
Hmm, it looks like talking smack about the sad state of ‘kids today’ has been going on for some time. I picture a group of Neanderthal parents eating roast mammoth saying, “Kids today, they just have it so easy. We didn’t have fire when we were growing up.”
 
Yeah, I’m escaping a little bit here, but can you blame me? Right now, doesn’t feel or look too awesome, so I’d rather think about the future. I see a better future, a new ‘greatest generation’, that will rise from the worry and isolation of COVID. They will be more connected, more intentional, more creative than any generation before. Gen Z, anyone born since 1997, is our future. They will inherit the problems of our past. According to the Pew Research Center, Gen Z is more racially and ethnically diverse than previous generations. They are also on track to be the best-educated generation yet. Gen Zers are more comfortable with change, express greater understanding of gender identity, and see family and societal change as good. Sounds like a pretty awesome group of people to me. Yes, they spend lots of time online and suffer from anxiety and depression at higher rates than previous generations as a result. But Gen Z appears to be ready to tackle climate change and they will work together to eradicate racism. Gen Z is the best of all of us and given a chance can undo the damage from the worst of us. Once COVID is behind us I have hope that they will find their voice and place as the next ‘greatest generation.
 
I believe in the power of the human spirit to overcome. That all that is needed is a threat or challenge, and a generation rises to meet it. Comfort, complacency, and mounds of cash don’t make a generation (or a nation) great. Learning how to grow through adversity, fighting the menace of the day, and jointly reaching a victory. That is what transforms us all into greatness. I will not live to see all Gen Z achieves, but I am excited to catch a glimpse of what is to come.
 
Thank you for escaping with me for a few minutes. Let’s dream together about a better tomorrow. Instead of putting down those who follow us, let’s offer our love and encouragement. They have missed graduations and proms and even classes (yes those too). I feel if we can help them see greatness inside, we can all celebrate when greatness emerges.
 
Oh, and are you going to eat all your mammoth, I’m still a bit hungry.