“Podded up”

World on Campus posts an article about the Millennial Generation, from a study done of incoming college freshman.  The study describes them as “more selfish, less interested in the well-being of others and less concerned about the environment than previously thought.”

As a high school teacher of only 12 years, and teaching kids who are so different culturally than myself, it’s difficult for me to say whether my experience confirms these findings.  I have taught some amazing students over the years, but am certainly in touch with the fact that they, like me, are sinners.

But this paragraph caught my attention:

Gordon, however, attributes the Millennial Generation’s lack of involvement to digital media, which many thought would make today’s youth the most broad-minded, thoughtful, intelligent generation ever. Instead, it has arrested their development, Gordon said: “When they are ‘podded up’ they do not hear adult conversations. When in a room with adults, they are texting other adolescents who are not present. They are stuck in childhood, because they have so little acquaintance with adults and adult concerns.”

The more experience I get, the more I am convinced that, next to a relationship with Jesus, contact with thoughtful adults is what kids and adolescents need most.  Occasionally when I discuss issues of family and parenting in my high school classes, I am repeatedly amazed by a certain dynamic.  This dynamic happens so frequently that it seems like there is a 100% correlation.  Here is is:

In most classes, there are typically a small group of students (2-6?) that just have something the others don’t.  It’s not necessarily intelligence.  It’s not simply social skills. It’s more than just relational awareness.  It includes politeness and good character.  It’s a bit hard to describe.  But I am drawn to them.  They are more confident and often have more leadership ability.  I trust them.  So already knowing who these students are, I often ask a question of the class: “Who has strict parents who are involved in your lives?”  (By “strict” I don’t mean angry or abusive, and I clarify that.)  Guess who almost always raises their hands?  You got it.  The correlation is striking.  The impact of time spent with thoughtful adults may be the most powerful dynamic I see in the high school classroom.

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