This morning I read a Newsweek article about the declining creativity in America's youth. In summary, the article describes the decline of creativity, as measured by an assessment tool developed in 1958, is declining in children of today. The article then blames the usual suspects: TV, video games, internet, and...you guessed it: schools.
I've got a significantly different take on "kids these days," and I sometimes feel like I'm in the significant minority. First, let me tell you why I'm so optimistic about our youth.
I am a licensed professional counselor in private practice in Reston, VA, which is a suburb of Washington, DC. I specialize in working with children and teens dealing with difficulties in their lives: school issues, under-achievement, behavior problems, depression, etc. I work with the kids and their parents to help create a better outcome.
I have the privilege of being able to sit and talk with kids about their lives, feelings, ideas, and dreams for about 5 hours of my day. It's an amazing job, and I'm amazed at how few people get to spend so much time just talking with kids. The kids I work with tell me pretty regularly that they have never had someone sit and talk with them for an hour and just be interested in their lives, their feelings, and their ideas.
Because of this privilege I have been given, I think I have a good idea of what's happening with kids these days. At least the kids in my little section of the world. And I have to say that I am impressed and amazed, sometimes to the point of being stunned.
I am impressed at their ability to think through ideas and synthesize new ways of considering things. I have watched as kids will make amazing leaps of logic and not know exactly how they got there. Kids in the last ten years have been living such a radically different existence than any other generation before them, that our ways of measuring their progress don't work.
My thought is that we are doing what every generation of parents do: We talk about how kids these days are in trouble. And it seems that every generation ends up doing some amazing things as adults.
My hope, and my prediction, is that these kids are going to blow us away with what they do when they are in charge!
Neil McNerney, LPC