Nowadays kids have a crazy sense of entitlement. I’m not trying to sound above it all. When I was in high school I thought that parents paying for college was part of their job. You know, it was written on the list of requirements that they agreed to when they signed up to have me. I was steadfast in that belief until I actually got to college and realized that I was one of the few that was living on my parents’ dollar. But it seems that more often nowadays kids have an astonishing sense of entitlement. And it’s not just with material items like iPhones or personal PC’s; this sentiment carries over to intangibles, like their education. They do not feel lucky to be attending school everyday–it is a right, and dare I say a chore. And when something is downgraded like that, it can easily lose its meaning.
The New York Times post entitled, Want Your College Student to Party Less? Pay Less, pitches the idea that there is a correlation between students’ financial involvement in their education and their success: “The group of college students least likely to report engaging in risky behavior (drinking, binge drinking, marijuana use and smoking) were those who contributed the most, financially, to their own education.” Now when you think about it, this parallel is none too shocking. I remember while growing up my parents hounding me to turn off the lights as I left a room, use all of the toothpaste in the tube, and watch my ketchup intake as I unleashed it onto my dinner plate (I had a perfunctory need to pour half a bottle and take 4 swipes) and I scoffed at each scolding. But let me tell you, now that I have to pay my own electric bill and buy my own condiments, you better believe I hang onto the little leftover packets of ketchup from fast-food joints.
So what if we extend this idea of ownership to our classrooms? I’m not saying that students should necessarily be paying for their high school education, but what I am saying is that they should be more invested in it. And it is our job as educators to bridge that gap.
Kids are like stocks. As teachers and parents we need to be concerned with long-term investments, not get sucked into the erratic performance of the short-term. If parents watched their stocks on a daily basis rise and plummet with each triumph and tribulation, they’d be likely to pull their hair out. At the same token, educators cannot afford to get lost in the daily grind of the ups and downs of teaching either. What must rivet our concern though, is what happens to our stocks in the long-term. If we make smart decisions, nurture our assets, and reinvest our dividends, our end results will be auspicious and fruitful.
So in the end, let the kids pick up the check and take ownership of their education. If not, our students are going to walk out of every room, and forget to turn off the lights.