Reams of well-written prose has discussed the best educational policies and tactics for addressing the problems of today's youth. “Our generation is confronted with unprecedented challenges,” claim the experts. Consequently, new methods are required if we are to succeed in educating our children. Frequently, our frustration at the failures of modern educational systems lead to rash, extreme steps which border on extremism and intractability.
Certainly, one basic mistake with most, if not all, of the proposals set forth today is the assumption that there must be some magical, “instant solution” which will wash away the problems with the same one-swipe-does-it efficiency as our Super Sudsy Soap Flakes, or the like. Our generation has become so accustomed to “instant” everything that we are likely to forget that some things do not lend themselves to accelerating to the speed of light. There may well be efficient one-hour dry cleaners on nearly every block, but no one has yet come up with a one-hour education scheme that works. We can easily develop our photos within the half-hour, but developing a child's character takes much longer.
In the realm of education, there's no such thing as an instant lesson “for once and for all.” Intimidation can sometimes be accomplished “for once and for all,” but intimidation is a far cry from education.
Another consequence of today's accelerated lifestyle is our tendency to respond to inquiries or complaints immediately, without taking the time to investigate the root of the problem. As a result, we are often more aggressive or sharp than is necessary in order to deal with the challenge at hand. It takes time – days, or months, and sometimes years – to correct ingrained misconceptions and errors. Who has the patience to wait?
Changing one's nature, acquiring good habits, and building good character traits cannot be achieved without long-term effort and progress. An “instant” change is not a permanent change. In the realm of family and education, the “instant” solution is usually erroneous. There is no room for drastic measures, even if they do bring about the desired change in the short term. In the long run, most drastic measures in the realm of family and education will be seen as mistakes. There is no place for taking harsh or radical measures. The educator must ask himself what gradual process will eventually lead to the desired results. The process itself will necessarily be ongoing and lengthy, with little or no immediately observable effects.
This principle applies both to positive actions and to the establishment of a warm, supportive environment conducive to educational progress. This generation's unprecedented wholesale dash to the offices of psychologists and therapists, is a symptom of parents' lack of confidence in the success of the education they are giving to their children. By enlisting the support of professional educators for their policies at home, today's young fathers and mothers become more confident in themselves and their relationship with their children. This trend can also be traced to the era of the “instant success.” We have become so accustomed to here and now, to immediate gratification of even petty desires, that the thought of a possible setback, not to mention failure, drives us to line up someone to take the blame even before we are certain that we have, indeed, not succeeded at some task or the other. Today's attitude is to avoid undertaking responsibility for any project that might possibly not succeed. That way, we need not be worried about the consequences of failure. If you are not the one responsible, there's bound to be someone else you can blame in case of failure.
This generation of parents is well-informed and up-to-date. They are well aware of the fact that the situation of today's youth is far different from what it was in their time, only a decade or two ago. Many standard phenomena of our times were unheard of in the past. Nonetheless, they do not acknowledge the need to invest more time and energy in their child's upbringing.
The pressures of the workplace and the whirlwind of social circles place increasing demand on the parents' time, energy and resources, all at the expense of their children. These, too, are unprecedented evils of our times which will quickly take their toll unless the parent actively draws the line and determinedly opts to place his children at the top of his list of priorities.