Saturday, May 5, 2012
I've been teaching for 16 years, and the longer I teach, the more I see disturbing trends. Never mind the lack of skills and total disregard for authority. The most obvious trend is students' tendency to see the school's role in the same way Democrats see the government's: as a never-ending storehouse of anything they might need. Like big government Democrats, students put almost no thought into where these things come from, so long as they're provided. Like Democrats, they possess a sense of entitlement where these things are concerned. And like Democrats, they do not take personal responsibility.
I see it every day. A student walks in, approaches the teacher's desk, starts searching, and asks, "May I borrow a pen?" or worse, "I need a pen." Or a student walks in, sits down, does nothing, and when questioned about the lack of productivity, looks at the teacher like she should know this already, and states, "I ain't got no pen and no paper!" At the end of the period, they usually leave the classroom, not having returned what they borrowed. And because they feel entitled, they lack any understanding why the teacher is upset that her supplies are diminishing.
This wouldn't be cause for concern if this were a rare occasion, but unfortunately, it is not. Day after day, the same students need the same things. It would be understandable, of course, if the reason for not having supplies is that the family cannot afford them. However, this isn't a poverty issue. The same students have iPods, cell phones, and expensive sneakers. Surely, they can purchase a writing utensil. This issue is bigger than money. This is an issue of entitlement and irresponsibility. Why provide for themselves what can, will, and in their minds, should be provided for them? I submit that the public school has not only contributed to this mentality, but may, with the aid and consent of the family, be the very reason for it.
I always say children don't raise themselves. They think the way they do because they've been taught to think that way. As uncomfortable as it is to admit that we adults hold some responsibility for the way our young people are turning out, we do. Again, I see it every day. We train students to live off of others. We train them that it's okay not to take personal responsibility. We train them...to be Democrats. Thus, they become Democrats who vote for Democrats--because "Democrats believe in helping people." We, the mean, selfish conservatives, only believe in helping ourselves, they come to think. The truth, of course, is we believe in helping others help themselves. But thanks to their school experience, we are the antithesis of everything they have come to associate with the way it should be, the way kind, caring, giving people function.
How do we send this improper message? Simple. When students don't have what they need, we tell them to come see us to get it or borrow from a classmate. They do so--every single day. We tell those who don't have their homework assignment done to bring it the next day, or the next, or the next, the fact that we're past that lesson now and the fact that the assignment could have been done in 15 minutes are not to be taken into consideration. If a particular teacher lays down the law, sticks to principles, and wants to teach a student some life skills, like personal responsibility, consequences, and work ethic, any group of people--parents, guidance counselors, other teachers--may come to the student's rescue, sometimes demonizing that "mean" teacher. This appeal, all with the good motive to take good care of that student, is usually accompanied by some story of why the teacher should accept an assignment ten weeks late (right before report cards go home, of course), excuse all displays of irresponsibility, and buy extra supplies so those who choose to come unprepared can get them from her. Then we wonder why in a few years we are still taking care of these people via our tax dollars. By then, many of these young adults are okay with that scenario. Why wouldn't they be? It's all they've ever known. Apparently, we're also okay with it because we helped do it to them. And I, too, am not without fault.
We are creating monsters. No, even worse, we're creating big government, entitlement-minded Democrats who grow up and declare that because someone such as President Obama occupies the White House, they don't have to worry about anything. Their mortgage and gas bills will be taken care of, for example. We're creating people who wonder what the big deal is when told that they should strive to have their own, rather than having to depend on others on a daily basis. We have made it so that those who come equipped with what they need are the exception now rather than the rule.
I've told my students over and over that life won't accommodate their behavior, that they can't live life like this--relying on others. But I'm starting to wonder if that's even true. There are people who do live like this, or at least believe it's okay for others to live like this. Why not? What's wrong with taking from those who have and giving to those who don't have, rather than teaching those who don't have how they, too, can have? With the help of the public school, they see absolutely nothing wrong with it. After all, everyone has to do their "fair share."
Is it any wonder, then, that when Governor Palin speaks about taking personal responsibility, people call her "mean"? Oh yes, it's mean to want people to learn to fish for themselves, so to speak, when someone else can just give them one. Governor Palin has talked at length about her upbringing in rugged Alaska, about how her parents expected the same from the girls as they did from their son. They hunted, fished, hiked, chopped wood, and played sports. Todd also grew up in a family that made sure he worked extremely hard, played sports, and bought his own vehicles. Both families knew what it was to get their hands dirty and make things happen instead of expecting from others. They didn't feel entitled to anything. They worked hard for everything because that was the expectation.
The Governor and Todd have taught the lessons they learned to their own children. Perhaps that's why we see such strength in them, even when faced with less than ideal circumstances. Take their oldest two as examples. Track is married, has a baby girl, and is serving in the U.S. Army. He's been to Iraq and is now in Afghanistan. Bristol has made no excuses but has taken responsibility for raising her son, working hard, and making a life for them. She's written a book detailing her experiences so she can help others. Their stories didn't come accidentally. I had a conversation with Todd once in which he discussed the need for youth to work hard and take personal responsibility. I remember listening to him and thinking, "Every young person needs to hear from this man." If our families and schools would partner in teaching and enforcing these kinds of principles to students, we'd have a stronger America coming up. I fear that is not the case.
Being a conservative to me just makes sense--common sense. Who doesn't want to provide for herself, get ahead, live out the American dream? More importantly, who doesn't want to fulfill the purpose for which God created her? This is something we should all aspire to, not walking around depending on others day in and day out. Everyone needs help at some point, but as I tell my students, may it be rare--a hand up, not a constant hand out. The more we pamper, coddle, and enable our young people, the more we disable them. They settle in to become permanent squatters on the Democrat plantation, where the chief staples are need, resentment, and entitlement.
And then they vote.