Adults must see children in new light

Published 12:00 am Sunday, August 8, 2010

How many times have we heard, or perhaps uttered ourselves, “Back in my day, we didn’t have it so good?”

It’s easy for us all to try and relate modern day issues with our own experiences from years ago, particularly when it comes to children, their upbringing and education.

But as wise educators will tell you, school isn’t what it was 50 or even 20 years ago.

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The mission has changed, and so have the students and their parents — and not all of those changes are bad.

First, the mission has changed as our world has increasingly become more and more global. Decades ago, our mission was to educated little Johnny to compete head-to-head with his own classmates. Today, our mission must be to make little Johnny competitive not only with all other students in the U.S. but also with the children in China and Europe.

And for our students, they’ve grown up in a world that is vastly different, too. The term “multitasking” likely hadn’t been coined by the time most of us hit the fourth grade so it may baffle us that some students are capable of doing homework, while listening to music, while text messaging friends.

Parents, too, have changed. More often than not, today’s parents are more likely to both work or even share custody after a divorce.

None of those new realities may make us feel good and we don’t necessarily have to like them, but we do need to realize that rather than fight those new realities, sometimes it’s best to just roll with them.

Some underlying basics still apply — raising a child isn’t one person, or one school’s job, it’s a complete family and community effort, and surrounding that child with love and attention are keys to solving all the other problems our society may face.