Always Advocating Alan – Children Must Avoid Stinkin’ Thinkin’ Because, “You are What Goes Into Your Mind” (Zig Ziglar)
It has been two weeks since 16 seconds of madness in Saugus put Santa Clarita in the national news. Although our community has a great deal of community pride, it was shown we are not isolated from the problems facing the rest of the country. Quoting myself from last week, “The loss of a child is a tragedy that no parent should ever have to endure, and my heart and prayers go out to each member of the affected families.” We must be prepared to look inward if we are to find ways of preventing such an occurrence from happening again.
Predictably, every time an event of this magnitude takes place, the affected community feels a sense of shock and remorse. To the benefit of our area, religious leaders, elected officials, community leaders and citizens have huddled together to share their grief and demonstrate the strong family bond we have in the Santa Clarita Valley.
Next must come a discussion about keeping our children safe. What can we do? Unfortunately, there are those who use every tragedy to push their own agenda, and it does not appear to matter to them whether or not the situation would have been prevented by what they espouse. These so-called experts tend to double down, wanting us to travel their failed path even faster, ignoring the fact that the problem has continued to escalate. Albert Einstein is credited with saying, “The definition of insanity is doing the same thing and expecting different results,” and in this case he appears to have hit the nail on the head.
Like many of you, I have given it a lot of thought over the past two weeks. I have been asking myself and others, what has changed since I was of high school age? Why is this situation escalating today? As a society, are we the cause? I know many individuals have blamed the breakup of a traditional family structure and the lack of religious principles as the reason. But perhaps, the issue goes even deeper. Some who have reached my age openly wish they could be young once more and do it all again, but not me. As I watch my grandchildren mature, I have become aware of the pressures put upon them, many of which I never had to deal with. As a young adult, I had far more freedom than children today. We were encouraged to play, explore outdoors and develop our understanding of the world and personal responsibility. Learner’s permits for driving were available at fifteen-and-a-half without taking a driver’s education class, and being sixteen years old allowed us to purchase a gun. Yet, I cannot recall a school shooting taking place during that time.
In contrast, today the media continues to report about the curriculum in our schools changing around the country, and I wonder how much of those changes have been implemented locally. Because, children need time to be children and discover the world at their own pace. Adults attempting to impress their agenda on children at an age where they do not understand the issue may just be confusing and frustrating our youth.
For example, kindergarten is a time for youngsters to become comfortable in a social setting. Then, as they begin to feel a kinship with their peers, if they are told they cannot hug each other or call another student their best friend, what message are we sending? If that was not confusing enough, there are schools in our country today that tell students that genders are not comprised of just boys and girls, but there are others. Just think about how that must sound to young minds.
Far too many of our children are being diagnosed with mental issues for which their parents are told they need treatment. Our modern society has come to believe anything can be cured with a pill. So, children are being prescribed an ever-increasing number of drugs that possess suicidal side effects, along with other mind-altering issues. Could this alone be causing some of the problems?
Young adults have been prevented the ability to discover skills by the elimination of shop classes. I suspect the classes were eliminated due to the fear of litigation in the event of a student injury, but our young students need to be made aware of all options available to enable their lifelong success. When I was in junior high school, wood, metal and electric shop were all offered as electives, along with home economics classes. You may find it odd, but I believe there is a direct correlation between building something in shop class and modern technology. When a student makes something in shop class, they must go through an orderly process and use available tools and materials to end up with a finished product. When an engineer writes a computer program, he or she must define an ordered set of commands, using what is called intrinsic functions (similar to using available tools) in order to come out with a finished working product. There is a lot to be learned by building something that can be touched, felt and used.
Common core math is the biggest bit of lunacy being heaped on our young students today. The part I find most humorous is this: I understand the algorithm, but the reasoning behind using the technique is never fully explained to the student. Plus, it should never totally replace the shorter method you and I learned in school. Why? Because the old method is more compact, and borrowing or adding to the next column is also a good way to explain powers of 10, although no one ever does it. Telling our young students that they must do things the most cumbersome way just increases their frustration level and stifles their desire to learn.
Today society places too much emphasis on the minority population and ignores or belittles the majority. As a Jew, I always knew I was a member of a religious minority. When I was in high school, it felt good when the school started being more inclusive at the end of the year holiday celebration. I have come to believe it would be a valuable diversity technique for public schools to teach comparative religion classes, giving equal time to the major world beliefs. It should not be used to indoctrinate students, but to inform them of what many in our community believe.
Having pride in our nation, our founding fathers, our history and our Constitution (not to mention understanding the Constitution) has left many of our schools. Concern over offending someone by reciting the pledge of allegiance, playing the national anthem or displaying an American flag is absurd. As Americans, we should be offended when these things are not done.
I could go on and on, but the most damaging thing we appear to be doing to our children today revolves around helicopter parenting. Children need to learn how to deal with failure, what to do when things do not go their way and the simple fact that they cannot be the best at everything. The last youth baseball team I coached was 37 years ago. I used Pat Riley’s philosophy of cautioning my players to not compete with other team players, but to strive for their personal best. At the end of the season, we had a team party, and I shared the areas were each player demonstrated superior skills to those they exhibited at the start of the season. It not only surprised the parents and players, it provided an incentive for the players to continue their individual effort. I hoped it would also provide a lesson to help carry each of those young adults through their lifelong journey.
I am pointing these areas out with the hope of starting a dialogue on how to help our young adults deal with everyday life. When individuals become frustrated and despondent, and then go to social media, movies or video games for an answer, it may send them spiraling off on a destructive path because they have not been provided the skills to sort out a productive solution.
Both the Gazette and I welcome your feedback. It does not matter if you agree with me or not. I would appreciate hearing from you. I have always said that you never learn anything by only talking with those who share your opinion.