Diana Stone puts her morning cup of coffee down on the kitchen counter and glances at her watch. “Seven thirty! It's late!” she gasps, running toward the bedroom. Danny is sound asleep. She shakes him to and fro, calling out:
“Danny! It's seven thirty! Wake up!”
“Don't want to get up!” grumbles Danny, his eyes still shut.
“Danny! Every day the same story! What will be in the end?”
Danny is not moved. “Don't want to go to that school!” he declares emphatically.
“Another five minutes, and that's it!” declares Mrs. Stone.
Four minutes and fifty-nine seconds later, Diana is back at Danny's bedside.
“Danny, you have to get up right this minute!” she declares.
“Don't want to go!” he answers. “I don't even want to see that school building!”
“No way,” retorts Diana. “You have to go, whether you like it or not.”
“I'm not going!” reiterates Danny. “They yell at me, and they hit me. I don't want to set foot in that school again.”
“Danny, it will be okay. I'm telling you. Danny, it's ten to eight already.”
“But they make fun of me. They humiliate me! I'm not going back to that school,” Danny insists.
“Danny, it's five to eight!” Mrs. Stone exclaims frantically. “Why don't you listen to me? You have no choice; you have to get up. Why don't you understand me?”
That does it. Danny sits up like a bolt. “You don't understand!” he screams hysterically. “I can't take it any more. I'm not going back there again. They call me names, right to my face. They throw banana peels at me! I'm at the end of my tether. Why can't you understand?”
“But Danny! Be responsible! It's your job; you're the principal!”
The author of this tongue-in-cheek scenario intended to do more than merely amuse us. There is a point he wanted to bring home. Together with his humor, he is pointing an accusing finger at us, the parents, teachers, (and principals) of today's children; he's suggesting that it is high time to evaluate our self-image and the image that we project to the younger generation. Let us explain.
Many parents complain about the fact that a parent, as such, can no longer assume that father is the only member of the family to sit at the head of the table. The previous generation grew up knowing that a parent's work was sacrosanct. There was no refusing to obey, and certainly, no contradicting one's father or mother.
It would be an understatement to say that times have changed. The standards of children's behavior have changed beyond recognition. Today a parent can speak and speak, repeat himself again and again, but to no avail. Who bothers to listen? Certainly not his children.
What happened? To where did all those obedient children disappear, and why?
We hear a variety of explanations: technology, computers, changing times, different values, the ozone layer, and increasing social pressures – but one and all agree that children today are not what they once were. Most answers are correct, to one degree or the other. Computers and other forms of technology all have their repercussions on society and the environment. Each advance in hi-tech requires that the conscientious educator re-evaluate the needs of his students, after gaining a renewed understanding of the temptations and challenges they face. Everyone agrees that it is pointless to use the methods of the previous generation when we set out to educate today's youth.
But there is another facet of preparation which is too often overlooked: In addition to looking around us to observe the latest trends and inventions, we would do well to take off our glasses from time to time, to close our eyes, and let our minds observe and examine what lies within us. How have we ourselves been affected by the advances of hi-tech? We shake our heads in dismay, and comment on the decline in stature from one generation to the next. "They just don't make 'em like they used to."
Are we, the teachers, educators and parents, perhaps, also talking about ourselves? Have we, too, slipped downhill from what we once were? Have we perhaps forgotten that we are invested with authority by the very fact of our being parents? Do we tend to forget that we are the adults, while the children are just that: still children. Perhaps we should recall that we are here not to play with them and have fun together, but to educate them and prepare them to lead lives as mature, responsible adults? If we fail to shoulder the burden of authority inherent in being a parent/teacher/educator, without any room for dissension, it naturally follows that we will not demand that our children heed our words and follow our instructions simply because we, not they, are in charge.
If we view our role as educators with the correct insight, we will become more fully cognizant of the fact that it is we, and no one else, who are responsible for these innocent, pure souls; they have been entrusted to us in order that we educate them, guide them and raise them to become upright, good people as adults. This enhanced awareness will imbue us with the strength and authority to demand what is best for our child in the long run.