Wednesday, October 23, 2019

Kids These Days

There is now some research out on one of my favorite topics:  adults grousing about Kids These Days.  I have maintained that this is mostly bunkum. There has not been a deterioration in the current generation.  I will add that I recall disagreeing with the Kids These Days hypothesis when I was a kid myself, as I knew many adults who were knuckleheads. I remembered that in the next generation, and on into this one. Three generations of my own experience.  Adults keep saying it, but it isn't true.  It says more about the speaker than about the kids.

I relate this to my continued contention that education is not worse now than in the Good Old Days, but that opinion is extremely unpopular with conservatives. (The studies cited here do not test that belief about education.  Whatever support they provide for my opinion on the subject is indirect.)

I did get something wrong about the explanation.  I thought that adults who worry about such things are more likely to think that the rising generation is a sinking generation, because they are remembering a non-representative sample of their own friends from childhood.  That is, advanced-placement students remembering their childhood friends are going to remember a disproportionate number of other AP students and falsely compare them to the general average today.  In the words of the study,
People may be accurately remembering the attributes of children in their past but the sample on which this judgment is based is biased toward a sample of peers who were similar to themselves.
So, I wasn't the only one who had entertained this notion. According to their data however, this is not true. I much prefer it when research bears out the theories I have cooked up, so I'm hoping for more support on this next time. Until then, what seems to be so is that we compare today's children against our own better qualities. The well-read think children are less well-read, the intelligent think the children are less intelligent, etc.


james said...

When I carefully try to remember what I was doing and reading and writing back in high school, I don't stack up as well as my not-so-careful impressions suggest.

Assistant Village Idiot said...

In particular, when I find documents from that period such as letters and term papers that record what I actually wrote and what I was actually thinking, I wonder why anyone thought I was an intelligent person.

GraniteDad said...

I have heard that children who are raised in small town train stations grew up to be very intelligent.

Assistant Village Idiot said...

Probably even read the directions for important tests.

Tom Bridgeland said...

My impression of school back in the 1960s/70s is that teachers pretty much just tried to get through the day. I don't recall any of them much showing interest in my learning anything. A few, yes. My track coaches sat me down and ordered me to bring my grades up, or get cut from the team.

My kids, in the 2000s seem to have had a slightly better experience.

Texan99 said...

I was obviously bright, but still an idiot.

There seems to be no end to the human urge to generalize about groups. Not that generalizations can't be true, but they usually are only a small piece of a big picture. I can think of lots of ways that kids from 100 years are superior to kids of today, but also vice versa. Ditto for ways that women are superior to men, and vice versa, and so on for just about any group you can propose to me. We have different strengths and weaknesses at different times and in different ways. We'd do well to learn from the strengths of different groups or times than our own, and to cultivate a little perspective, without indulging ourselves in self-loathing, either. Whoever you are, you're not the best little boy in the world, or the worst little boy in the world.

Donna B. said...

Define "kids". If we're talking about "millennials" then I'd have to say 25% of the ones I've observed (small number) are dumber than rocks and I am worried about them. If we're talking about middle or elementary school, then I'm very optimistic about the future. So... that makes me wonder if it's the curriculum that "dumbs them down"? It also makes me wonder if they have to hit puberty before the curriculum is capable of doing that.