Now more than ever we think we are so much smarter than our predecessors. We equate technological “smarts” with “living smarts” when there really is no comparison. No one disputes that today’s teen gets around a key board with little or no trouble but that doesn’t make them smarter when regarding life skills.
There is a growing body of work and research that suggests that kids from the mid 70’s were just as smart and in many cases smarter than today’s “wunderkind.” The following is an excerpt from a study done at Kings College in London, England that supports the previous statement.
(By Charlotte Bailey)
But average achievement was found to be similar in teenagers from both generations. Professor Michael Shayar, who led the study, said: “The pendulum test does not require any knowledge of science at all. It looks at how people can deal with complex information and sort it out for themselves.” He believes that the decline in brainpower has happened over the last ten to 15 years and could be a result of national curriculum targets which drill children for tests as well as changes in children’s leisure activities, such as an increase in computer games and television watching.”
As parents we have been told that our kids are growing up much faster than they did 20 years ago. There is a great deal of truth in that statement but only if you consider physical growth as the only criteria to be considered. Considering mental and emotional growth these test results say exactly the opposite. Are we expecting our children to grow up much faster than before and if so does that mean that they are better prepared to make “adult” decisions? Does that mean they are better equipped to deal with the consequences of those decisions? My answer to that would be a simple and emphatic “NO” they are not.
We, as those who are supposed to be responsible for preparing our children for adulthood, have, for the most part, been woefully ignorant or reluctant to do what is required in order to do that. Not all adults or parents of course but far too many. We expect the school system to perform that duty and parents are saying “that’s why we pay you guys.” In the end we have a generation of kids who are trying to figure out who and what they are supposed to be. How are they supposed to behave? They don’t feel they can talk to their teachers or parents about the issues they face and are accessing public and social services at an unprecedented rate. Go to the Canadian Children Rights Council/Fatherless children in Canada to see just how dire this situation is.
So the question remains: “Are our kids as smart as they used to be?” If we believe the outcomes of these two studies and the information attached to the link I listed above–It is clear that we need to pay attention. Our children are not learning what they need to learn in order to be more confident, successful and hopeful in the new world they live in. When our children are trying to tell us they are more fearful of being bullied, that they are fearful of the outcomes of exams because of the pressure put on them to succeed–we need to pay closer attention to them. When their behaviour indicates that using alcohol and drugs is the answer to many of their emotional and spiritual problems–we need to listen. Perhaps if we pay closer attention we can help reduce the number of teenage suicides per year.
Our kids are doing their job by trying to tell us what they need from us. Now we need to do our job as parents. We need to expect much more from our school system. Education is more than just feeding facts and information to kids who are often bored and disinterested with stuff they don’t feel has any relevance to their future lives. We need to listen more closely to our kids and let them know that we have heard them and help is on its way. We need to stop believing that our kids are smarter than we were and they will handle life more effectively than we did because they are growing up faster. We need to understand that that is just not true. We must stop expecting them to make adult type decisions using a child’s view of the world around them. It just doesn’t work that way.
Anyway, that’s how I see things.
I wish you all a Merry Christmas
Thanks for stopping by, Jim
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(The study information and the photo image have been used for research, criticism or educational purposes. I derive no financial gain from the use of that material.)