Is there still anything we can teach the young?

In my post of Feb 18, I spoke of the frustrations that those in their middle age often have with the younger generations of today. I said:

They should count their blessings; yet they seldom do. They should be better equipped for the tribulations of life; yet they are so fragile. I have worked very hard to achieve what I have today. And they don’t seem to have any goals in life.

But I also conceded that they have grown up in a world that we have built for them: If we had been born at the same time they were, we would probably perceive and experience life the way they do.

Does it mean that all our own values are outdated? Does it mean that there is nothing more we can teach the young?

Indeed it is often fashionable these days to talk of allowing the young to explore life on their own, and not meddling with their way of thinking. We should refrain from giving them too much advice. We should just observe, and support, from the sideline. We have stopped nagging long long ago. Now, we should avoid telling them what to do or what not to do. We should only encourage, appreciate, and support.

Today, parents are told not to impose their own values on their children. University teachers never point out directly problems of attitude that their students display. (They just put up with students who habitually turn up late, talk or sleep in class. They grumble about these between themselves, but seldom do anything about it.)

Some schoolteachers are more interested in befriending their students in order to become the most ‘popular’ teacher among the students, than confronting their students about their misbehaviours.

Is there anything left for us to teach the young? Coincidentally, last week, retired Professor Lo Wai Luen (小思) talked about the same issue on the radio. She was of the view that there are values that we should uphold, and that we should impart to the young. But she also admitted that nagging and lecturing would not work today. Instead, we need a lot more tact today. She cited the example of how to deal with a young person addicted to Japanese computer games to develop from simply playing the games, to finding out more about the Japanese culture behind.

From time to time, I hear teachers telling me how their effort goes down the drain. Why do I still maintain that if we had been born at the same time they were, we would probably perceive and experience life the way they (young people) do.

For me, it doesn’t mean that there is nothing we should do. It doesn’t mean that we should always turn a blind eye to their problems. But if we understand better why they behave the way they do, we will at least be more able to remain calm, so that we can find better ways of dealing with them.

Miss Wong is one such example. She is a totally devoted teacher. She has high expectations for herself, and for her students. She wants to give all herself to her students. At the same time, she cannot stand seeing her students wasting their own time, and she makes her requirements and expectations clear to her students. As a result, compared with her colleagues, she is hardly the most popular teacher. But she doesn’t give in. And she gets results. Here is her story which I hope will give you some strength and inspiration. Have a listen:


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