It has been in the news provincially in recent weeks that kids these days, well, they're useless. They don't do their homework, they are only interested in texting their friends and they have no work ethic. Many people may take these charges as truth having no contact with today's youth. Some may have formed this opinion because they have had contact with kids today and it wasn't a good experience. When it comes to kids today I have a unique perspective; I employ, teach and study with them. Given this portfolio of experience, I know a thing or two about kids today.
Work ethic, they have none. A small business owner recently went on the record to state that her business was forced to close because she could not get good workers. The kids she hired were always on their phones and didn't perform their prescribed duties. That is a pretty outrageous charge to lay at the feet of your employees. What about the employer? It seems like she may not have created the best work environment as she's scapegoated her employees when everyone knows—It's the economy stupid. Surely there may have been some inappropriate use of time; who among us can honestly say they don't check their personal facebook or e-mail when they are on the company clock? The sad thing is that no employers go on the record singing the praises of their employees, so I will.
A few years ago I was in a management position and had two university students working under me. They were great at their jobs. They got great reviews from the public they served. And they stayed on task even when some of those tasks were mind numbingly boring. In fact, I sometimes had to escape from my office and my own duties on dull days. I would break into their work day to have a little chat and some social time. I can't recall them doing the same thing. They were outstanding, dedicated workers who took their jobs seriously.
When it comes to work ethic, I have only seen a serious failure to develop one in co-workers who were senior in age to myself. Some people won't take a job because they think the pay is too low. They choose not to work at all. Kids today want money, they're working. Take a look at who is working the cash when you buy groceries on the weekend or during the evening shift. In our local grocery store it is almost all high school students at work during the weekend.
Some people take a job and then fail to work because they think they aren't being paid enough. This was what I witnessed; a coworker did nothing for an entire contract. That worker wasn't a youth but someone several years my senior. The younger workers on the same contract all managed to fulfill their contractual obligations.
I see high school students whose schedules are overloaded with sports, part-time employment, school work and occasionally some fun with friends. I am amazed by the things these kids get done and feel that my own teenage years were completely wasted. Kids these days have a three page resume of volunteer and paid work by the time they leave high school. My generation never moved so constructively in the world, never accomplished as much as kids today.
This week I attended a very long meeting where one presenter talked for over two hours; citing reports and posting graphs in power point. The people in the crowd were very attentive, the presentation was about a process that would see the local school close. In the front row were six teenage girls. They had gone to this school and would be moving on to a new school in the coming year for high school. The decision made about the fate of their current school would not affect them personally. But they too were attentive, didn't fidget (as I occassionally did) and weren't playing on their smart phones. This is not remarkable. It is only remarkable to people who discount the thoughtfulness of kids today and their concern for community.
I also act as a host mom to international students. These kids come to a new country, a new language, a new school and do well. They often get top marks. Kids today, how many adults could make this leap?
Yes, there are some problems with kids today but I think many of them are problems we, the generations that came before the millennials, have created. Our lowered expectations, reflected in grade inflation in university and no fail policies in public education, is creating this false idea that kids these days are spoiled, entitled brats.
Every generation bemoans the one that follows. Can we ever accomplish more than our forefathers? Of course we can. Kids today are doing amazing things. Occassionally we'll see these amazing things reported in the media but not often enough. However, not every young person is making incredible breakthroughs with their science fair project, not every young person is going to accomplish something that will bring them into the public eye. To expect them to do that is setting the bar pretty high. We need to acknowledge that kids today, the ones that aren't making it into the newspaper, are doing good things every day, working hard and contributing to society.
If children are our future...I think it looks pretty bright. From the baby boomers on down, we've done a pretty good job of screwing things up, I am confident that the youth of today will help save us. We're in good hands. Let's get out of their way and let them have at it. Top photo: The Millennials and me -- at work.