Friday, March 31, 2017

It isn't a genetic break

Frank Martin is one of the most colorful coaches in college basketball. This quote has gone viral over the last week in part because it of his forceful delivery and in part because of the hint of truth that rings through in it.

He is right in that there has not been some kind of major genetic break in the human species over the last few decades that has affected our younger generation. There really is nothing different with the kids themselves. They simply are born into a different time, into a different world.

The world moved a lot slower for previous generations. The schools that we attended in the 90s were pretty much the same as they were in the 80s, 70s, 60s and 50s. Teachers instructed with chalk on blackboards while occasionally rolling in a cart with an overhead projector or passing out the box with the Texas Instrument calculators in it. 


The world changes today based on the exponential evolution of technology. Today we upgrade our super computer (cell phone) every two years. Our parents had the same rotary phone most of their lives.

Things are infinitely faster today. And, extraordinarily more transactional. Today’s youth cut their teeth on technology, and as such have a unique built in advantage that no other generation has had. They are much more comfortable with technology. They can roll with the endless ways that it changes and integrates into all aspects of life much better than prior generations.

At the same time, the world is much more complex and competitive. They can keep up with the pace reasonably well. But, with all that is going on, the basics tend to get overlooked. Things move so fast, there is less time available to foster patience, focus and work ethic.

This isn’t “their fault.” We all are in some ways a lump of clay in our youth, and the world around us helps to form who we become. As teachers and others committed to the development of young minds we can try our best to help mold them toward these characteristics.

We can emphasize and model character and integrity. We can do our best to establish environments intended to develop accountability and personal responsibility. We can treat young people with respect, and talk to them as adults. In an honest and “Frank” manner.

We can speak in the moment we live in – “aim high”, “shoot for the moon.”

At the same time emphasize that success does not just fall into our laps. That there are a LOT of their peers that they are going to be battling with to get ahead. That they had better have a plan and know what they are going to do. That they are going to have to fight, hard, to get what they want in life. That they are going to have to wake up each and every day with focus. Wake up each and every day and be their best. 

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