Distractions, changing values, neglect and a failing public school system are just a few of the reasons why today’s children are hesitant to learn in a classroom environment. Inundated with entertainment, many children see no point to learning topics such as history, advanced mathematics or even social skills.
Historically, children were motivated to learn skills and information that would benefit them as adults. With an uncertain economy, increasingly powerful government and technology that changes daily, many students feel that they can learn everything they need to know on their own or from friends. Many other students have given up trying altogether, assuming family or government will provide for them.
Perhaps the greatest contributor to student apathy is the overwhelming volume of entertainment and distractions available at the touch of a button. Games, movies and music provide an instant medium for social interactions, instant gratification and personal enjoyment with minimal effort. Children become passive, rather than active learners, making it more difficult for them to develop the skills needed to learn complex subjects or to apply themselves to long term goals. Children need supervision and limits placed on the amount of time spent with these entertainments if they are going to develop a desire to learn more and better themselves.
The Protestant Work Ethic was once considered an American standard. The idea of working hard and saving to achieve long term goals has given way to instant gratification and laziness. The sheer mass of bureaucracy and government makes many students feel that any effort is a waste of time, better spent entertaining and rewarding themselves with unearned and unaffordable pleasures. Children who are raised with clear value systems and encouragement to better themselves are far more likely to become active learners, both in and out of the classroom.
The changing family unit has left many children home alone, unattended, undisciplined and unmotivated. Economic difficulties, high divorce rates and irresponsible spending have forced many families to hand parenting responsibilities over to untrained caregivers and community institutions where children are not required to apply themselves to learning. Children need strong examples of family leadership, where education and effort are valued, if they are expected to value learning for themselves.
Failing school systems
Another reason why many of today’s children are hesitant to learn is the result of failing school systems. Outdated textbooks, overcrowded classrooms and restricted teaching methods shut out a wide range of students whose learning styles are not suited to regimented rows of rote learning. Many teaching methods and subjects currently being taught are irrelevant to modern society and young students see no point in making the effort to learn. The current focus on standardized test results is often devastating to the morale and motivation of non-standardized students.
Today’s children are learning. Children always learn. The challenge to parents, schools and society today is to ensure that children are learning to value self-improvement, consistent effort, higher thinking skills and responsible behavior.