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Offline Matthew

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Raising a generation of nincompoops
« on: October 04, 2010, 10:29:05 AM »
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  • Can your kids tie their shoes? Can they zip their jackets? Can they use a can opener?

    Many kids across American cannot do basic mechanical chores and Associated Press writer Beth Harpaz wonders if we’re raising a generation of incapable kids.

    From The Associated Press:

        “Second-graders who can’t tie shoes or zip jackets. Four-year-olds in Pull-Ups diapers. Five-year-olds in strollers. Teens and preteens befuddled by can openers and ice-cube trays. College kids who’ve never done laundry, taken a bus alone or addressed an envelope.”

        “Are we raising a generation of nincompoops? And do we have only ourselves to blame? Or are some of these things simply the result of kids growing up with push-button technology in an era when mechanical devices are gradually being replaced by electronics?”

        “Susan Maushart, a mother of three, says her teenage daughter ‘literally does not know how to use a can opener. Most cans come with pull-tops these days. I see her reaching for a can that requires a can opener, and her shoulders slump and she goes for something else.’ ”

        “Teenagers are so accustomed to either throwing their clothes on the floor or hanging them on hooks that Maushart says her ‘kids actually struggle with the mechanics of a clothes hanger.’ ”

        “Many kids never learn to do ordinary household tasks. They have no chores. Take-out and drive-through meals have replaced home cooking. And busy families who can afford it often outsource house-cleaning and lawn care.”

        ” ‘It’s so all laid out for them,’ said Maushart, author of the forthcoming book ‘The Winter of Our Disconnect,’ about her efforts to wean her family from its dependence on technology. ‘Having so much comfort and ease is what has led to this situation — the Velcro sneakers, the Pull-Ups generation. You can pee in your pants and we’ll take care of it for you!’ “

    The author of the article was personally affected when a visiting 12-year-old couldn’t get ice out of a regular ice tray as opposed to the automatic dispenser on the refrigerator.

    Personally, I am thrilled when my 3-year-old can change from her tap shoes into her ballet shoes by herself at dance class because her 7-year old brother is still mastering tying his shoes thanks to years of Velcro. (Damn you Velcro — so convenient, yet such an enabler!)

    When my oldest daughter was in kindergarten I noticed she would still have her jacket on at lunch even though the outdoor temperature had warmed up. I finally realized the poor child didn’t know how to unzip her own jacket!! I had always done it for her out of convenience. (That one is clearly on me! Bad helicopter mother! However, I have made sure the other two children, including the 3-year-old, can zip.)

    Through the years teenage babysitters have surprised me with their incompetence in the kitchen. One didn’t know how to use the can opener. Another cooked the pizza when the cardboard still under it and yet another asked if she should boil the corn on the cob still in its husk.  I wrote it off to their mothers never cooking at home, but maybe this is about not being exposed to common mechanical tools.

    I don’t think this generation is dumb. My 3-year-old knows how to use our digital camera and my 7-year-old downloads movies from Netflix on the computer to the X-Box hard drive to watch later. They create computer games on their own, do algebra in the fourth grade and could make a Power Point presentation in second grade.

    I do believe the problem is not the intelligence of the children but with helicopter parents and technology doing things for them.

    This may be opening a can of worms but I think that kids who go to day care learn how to zip their jackets, tie their shoes, put on the skates and wipe their bottoms sooner because the day care workers can’t do it for all twenty kids in the class. Because my kids were always home with me I tied their shoes and zipped their jackets (and wiped the bottoms) as we hustled out the door.

    I am pleased to say that my second-grader’s class just worked on addressing envelopes last week so I know he can do that one! But now I want to see if my kids can get ice from an old fashioned tray. (I sense a sneaky test coming on!)

    So what do you think: Are we raising a generation of incapable nincompoops? Are they actually dumb? Are we doing too much for them? Are we not teaching them basic life skills?

    Do you think kids that go to day care learn these everyday life skills better or faster than kids that have stay-at-home moms or dads?

    How do you explain he disconnect between the amazing things they can accomplish (like using my smart phone better than me) and the simple things they cannot?

    Share with us funny (or sad) examples of stuff your kids can’t do!
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    Offline Matthew

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    Raising a generation of nincompoops
    « Reply #1 on: October 04, 2010, 10:31:39 AM »
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  • I don't know if she's implying we should all send our children to daycare...

    How about have enough children so your home is more like a daycare?

    You don't have helicopter parenting when 8 children are involved -- like the daycare employee, you simply don't have time. Babying the kids simply isn't an option. They HAVE to do for themselves the things they can.

    It's SO tempting to just zip the jacket rather than teach him/her how to do it (which one takes more patience?) -- but when you have a bunch of kids, you get motivated to teach the older ones how, because it will make your life easier.

    Matthew
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    Offline Matthew

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    Raising a generation of nincompoops
    « Reply #2 on: October 04, 2010, 10:36:05 AM »
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  • I want my kids to not only be competent, but I want them to surprise people by how down to earth and capable they are. I want them to know where each vegetable/fruit comes from (tree, bush, plant, vine, underground) and I want them to know all the basic mechanical skills.

    You know -- how to use a hammer, screwdriver, shovel, can opener, etc.

    The boys (assuming we ever get more than one -- LOL) will learn how to operate power tools (drill, chainsaw, weedwhacker, push mower, riding mower, tractor) and other male skills, while the girls will learn a wide range of domestic skills.

    I am WELL AWARE of the downsides of technology, so this article struck a chord with me.

    I always say, "Go ahead and use modern technology if you want, but just KNOW what it does to you."

    Technology is not "Better. Plain and simple." like a 20 dollar bill is better than a 5 dollar bill in every way.

    No, having A/C is better than sweating it out in SOME WAYS (more comfortable), but worse in others (costs money, makes us soft, makes us want to stay indoors). As long as you acknowledge the trade-off, you can go ahead and use your technology (that includes myself!)

    Cars are better than horse & buggy in SOME ways (faster) but worse in other ways (you can't produce your own gasoline, complex engine harder to maintain, wide-scale creation of Suburbs far from city center and services)

    Calculators are better than pen & paper in SOME ways (faster), but worse in others (atrophy of brain pathwayss used to do math in your head)

    Google is better than learning/memorizing facts for yourself in SOME ways (more convenient, no effort needed to memorize stuff) but worse in others (memorization skill down the toilet these days; everyone ignorant when not around an Internet-enabled PC)

    Sometimes the answer is to use it in moderation. For example, leave the cell phone in your car when you go to the store. If you forgot what kind of bread to get, just do without. Next time, ask your wife before you leave the house.

    Other technology should be avoided altogether.

    Matthew
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    Offline Trinity

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    Raising a generation of nincompoops
    « Reply #3 on: October 04, 2010, 10:59:50 AM »
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  • It's all a matter of training.  One thing they are actually trained NOT to do is think.  There goes the common sense and in comes the ignorance gone to seed.  I have cleaned all my life,  starting at the age of five.  I was cleaning for a lady and got out my scrub brush and soapy water to scrub her wooden threshold.  She said to me...."Oh, that's how you clean that!"  Duh!
    +RIP
    Please pray for the repose of her soul.

    Offline RomanCatholic1953

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    Raising a generation of nincompoops
    « Reply #4 on: October 04, 2010, 11:22:56 AM »
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  • You can download the book, The Deliberate Dumbing down
    of American by Charlotte Thomson Iserbyt, a former
    Senior Advisor in US Department of Education during the
    Ronald Reagan Era. This book explains that there was a
    deliberate plan to dumb down American School Children
    since the early 1950's, and financed by some Tax Free
    Foundations, and even worked out of the White House.
    The purpose is to merged the American Education
    System with Communism.

    http://www.deliberatedumbingdown.com/MomsPDFs/DDDoA.sml.pdf


    Offline CathMomof7

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    Raising a generation of nincompoops
    « Reply #5 on: October 04, 2010, 12:11:49 PM »
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  • I think this is really interesting.  I must admit, though, that our 4 year old sleeps in a pull-up.  He is a REALLY heavy sleeper and wets every single night, no matter how many times we get him up to go to the bathroom.  I got tired of airing out his mattress and washing sheets every day--it's a trade off.  As for the other things--our older kids help out a lot: they cook, clean, change diapers etc.  Our 18 year old, thanks to his Dad, already knows how to hang doors, drywall, repair a lawnmower, replace siding, etc.  He also knows how to do his laundry (but still calls me when he gets a new red shirt).  By 5 or 6, my children have always been able to pour themselves a drink, make a bowl of cereal, make a PB & J sandwich, make toast, use the microwave to heat up left overs etc.  I REFUSE to get them dressed passed age 5 and yes, they know how to use the can-opener and what ice trays are.

    However, I do so wish I could find one of those old metal ice-trays so they could experience the pain and agony of getting their tongue stuck.   :smirk:

    Offline CathMomof7

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    Raising a generation of nincompoops
    « Reply #6 on: October 04, 2010, 12:20:24 PM »
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  • I do want to add this though.  Many years ago, Erik Erickson developed a theory regarding pyschosocial development.  In other words, we develop socially in stages.  If we are unable to achieve proper development at the proper time, we will be stunted and inhibited as we grow older, prolonging each stage.  This stage of tying shoes, preparing simple meals, zipping coats, using the bathroom on your own all falls under the Autonomy vs. Shame stage.  Unless children grasp these skills between about 4 or 5, they will have much difficulty developing socially and become very clingy and suffer with self-conscience issues.  Frankly, I think this is what the establishment wants.  These children often are quite unable to think for themselves and grow into their adult years lacking iniative and motivation.  

     

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