Below is word number four in my series of six words that describe the world in which our kids are growing up. I am hopeful we, adults, can lead them well, but there’ll be changes we must make to prepare them to enter the world of adults. Below is my latest entry. See what you think…
Their world is superficial.
Kids today have access to a lot of information, and they can get it at the touch of a finger. However, they are rarely encouraged — and often lack the interest — to delve deeply into a subject or go below the surface. They’re often fuzzy, not focused.
Our organization, “Growing Leaders,” teaches what we call Habitudes® to students. Habitudes® are images that form leadership habits and attitudes. One of them is: “Rivers and Floods.” For the most part, this generation is a flood, not a river, seeping out in every direction but not going far in any one direction. They are flooding, not flowing; just skimming the surface.
Their reading skills are low in fact; only half of the high school graduates met the benchmark for reading. In general, their study time is low as well. According to a U.S. Department of Education study, when asked how many hours they’d spent on homework the day before, about 40 percent of students said they had no homework or they didn’t do the homework that had been assigned.
According to WordSmart, Inc., the vocabulary of a middle school student has dropped measurably over the last sixty years. The average middle school student in 1950 possessed a vocabulary of twenty-five hundred words. Today, with more English words available than ever, they possess ten thousand words.
One author suggested today’s students are made of Teflon — nothing seems to stick. One of our focus groups unveiled that their attention spans are about the same as their age — sixteen-years-old, sixteen minutes. And when they’re bored, they quit. Nationwide, about 30 percent don’t even finish high school.
One college dean told me that a student asked if he could “try out” being a resident advisor in the dormitory. When the dean responded that the commitment was for one year, the student asked if he could try it for two weeks. This is the question that prompts adults to wonder: Are these kids going to change the world or just keep changing their mind?
This is a critical issue. What are your thoughts? What can be done?