Today's Teachers Struggle to Educate a Generation of Students Unlike Any That Has Ever Been Seen Before

By Simplicio, Joseph S. C. | Journal of Instructional Psychology, March 2004 | Go to article overview

Today's Teachers Struggle to Educate a Generation of Students Unlike Any That Has Ever Been Seen Before


Simplicio, Joseph S. C., Journal of Instructional Psychology


Each day more and more laws are passed that require school districts to be accountable for their students' performances in the classroom. Educators are given the age-old responsibility of ensuring that their students meet the rigors of a quality education. Teachers today though are faced with a generation of students unlike any they have ever taught before. "The road to hell is paved with good intentions and desires." This is indeed the case when it comes to this current generation of students and their parents. This article discusses, how inadvertently through good intentions, an entire generation of young adults who will be defined by their failure to internalize some of the most important societal and educational values this country has held dear, has come to significantly impact the current day educational system.

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Each day, new legislation is enacted into law that requires school districts to educate a growingly diverse new generation of students unlike any that has ever entered classrooms in the past. Federal regulations such as the "No Child Left Behind" statute strain already limited school resources. In addition, state regulations add to the burden. Each day school districts are being held more and more accountable for students' performances in the classroom as measured through standardized testing. Ultimately, it is the everyday classroom educator that bears the burden for this accountability.

This is not new. Once the educational system was formalized and curriculum standardized, classroom teachers were held both personally and professionally responsible for ensuring that their students met the rigors of a quality education. What has changed though, and what has caused a significant impact on their ability to do so, is the student population itself.

"The road to Hell is paved with good intentions and desires." These words of wisdom have been expressed by many notables from Samuel Johnson to Karl Marx to St. Bernard of Clairvaux. This unfortunately is indeed the case when it comes to this current generation of students and their parents. Through nothing but good intentions many parents just may have inadvertently created an entire generation of young adults who will be defined by their failure to internalize some of the most important societal and educational values we have held dear as a nation.

More economically blessed than their parents, with better careers, nicer homes, and more expensive automobiles, today's parents have worked diligently to give their children everything that the American Dream aspires to and stands for, and that they did not have as children themselves. They have given their children music, art, and dance lessons, individualized and group instruction on how to better play soccer, baseball, basketball, tennis, and every other type of sport imaginable. They have signed their children up, and became actively involved themselves, in all manners of organized sports. They have organized "play dates" with other children to ensure that their children would have friends. They have sat at countless numbers of sporting events on all levels and eagerly encouraged their proteges on to success. In theatres across the nation they have endured off key musical renditions and applauded when their aspiring dancers clumped across the stage out of step. They did all of these things and more because it was not done for them, and because they were convinced that this is what "good parents" should do.

All these activities outside the home meant that most families faced a daily time crunch dilemma as they hurriedly sought out ways to spend "quality time" together. Something had to give, there was just not enough time to go to soccer games, piano lessons, school meetings, and do homework. In order to compensate they made compromises. Many chose to cut back on family dinners. Not sitting around the dinner table together to share a meal was a marked and significant change from the parents' own childhood routine. …

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