Our Future is in Good Hands

Lately, I’ve spent a considerable amount of time thinking about all of the different groups of people affected directly by COVID-19.  It is a comprehensive list.  Quite naturally, much of my attention focuses on those in the medical field, but essential workers in many industries are making sacrifices. 

TABLE 1

Essential workers by industry, 2019

TotalPercent of industry
All essential workers55,217,845100%
Food and agriculture11,398,23320.6%
Emergency services1,849,6303.3%
Transportation, warehouse, and delivery3,972,0897.2%
Industrial, commercial, residential facilities, and services6,806,40712.3%
Health care16,679,87530.2%
Government and community-based services4,590,0708.3%
Communications and IT3,189,1405.8%
Financial sector3,070,4045.6%
Energy sector1,327,7602.4%
Water and wastewater management107,8460.2%
Chemical sector271,1600.5%
Critical manufacturing1,955,2333.5%

Note: Code for the definition of essential services used here is available upon request.

Source: Economic Policy Institute (EPI) analysis of Current Population Survey Outgoing Rotation Group microdata, EPI Current Population Survey Extracts, Version 1.0.2 (2020), https://microdata.epi.org

The virus has touched so many others beyond essential workers. Perhaps because I’m a sappy old teacher, I can’t help but think about the many students who have had to adjust. 

Three months ago, I got out my old school yearbook because I wondered which group of former students was having their senior year disrupted.  This photo of my third-grade class is from nine years ago. (I’m in the bottom right panel.) I would never label any of my students or classes as “my best,” but this group contained so many promising learners.  As an educator, you learn early that these unique and special classes only happen a few times in a career.

One of the things that bother me the most about my generation is those who often put young people down.  I call it “old man syndrome,” although it is not something that only strikes males.  If you aren’t afflicted with this condition, I’m betting you know someone who is.  The most common symptoms of this malady are the tendency to belittle young people and continually remind everyone how much better things were in “our day.”   A typical complaint from one of these nostalgic blowhards throws young people under the bus with negative references to “kids these days.”

The implication is that somehow young people today do not match up to those from previous generations.  I think this logic is misguided and inaccurate.  When I was a student, there were plenty of kids who were kind, thoughtful, educated, and destined to do great things, but others who were arrogant, rude, lazy, and likely didn’t do much with their lives.  I would argue that all of this is still true today.

Children haven’t changed; society has changed.  When I was a child, there were very few homes in which both parents worked.  Divorce rates are now at an all-time high.  Kids today have an array of negative influences that I never experienced in my naïve childhood.

The notion that most kids today are uneducated or don’t give a damn about the world is entirely uninformed and inaccurate.  I’m speaking as someone who taught elementary school kids for thirty-one years.

I’m sorry that the graduating class of 2020 has had their senior year disrupted.  Many didn’t get to experience the opportunities and experiences that help bring closure to high school and this phase of their lives.  It’s unfortunate not only for them but for their family and friends who have missed out on celebrating these triumphs with them.

 I have complete faith in the current generation of young people.  I taught many of these kids, and I know they are smart, compassionate, creative, and responsible.  Before we start tooting our horns and reminiscing about how great things were in our era, perhaps we’d better take a cold hard look at the world and realize that we’ve made our share of mistakes.  As someone who retired four years ago, I would say that our future is in good hands.

39 thoughts on “Our Future is in Good Hands

  1. “Children haven’t changed, society has changed.’ Spot on

    Liked by 1 person

    1. petespringerauthor July 9, 2020 — 8:09 pm

      That’s the way I see it. The best part of my retired teaching years has been watching some of my former students blossom into amazing young adults. I am oozing with teacher pride.

      Liked by 1 person

  2. Kudos to our kids! ❤ We're in good hands.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. petespringerauthor July 9, 2020 — 8:12 pm

      Yes, we are. I genuinely believe there is a fantastic generation of kids that care about the Earth, racism, equal rights for all, along with numerous other issues. I may be worried about other things, but I do have complete faith that some of our young people are going to become fabulous leaders of the future.

      Liked by 1 person

  3. Well said, Pete. Children haven’t changed. In times of crisis, they often rise to the occasion, far better than most adults. I think this batch of kids today may be the ones who do great things. Facing adversity will do that.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. petespringerauthor July 9, 2020 — 8:19 pm

      We put our faith and trust in them, and they seldom let us down. I just got the most delightful letter in the mail today from one of my former third-graders who graduated this past year. She is one of many who give me great hope for the future. I’m usually an upbeat person, but this isn’t false optimism on my part. I believe in this generation of kids, and I want them to know that, too.

      I think it speaks volumes when your former students come back to visit you, Jennie. I remember your blog post about the family of kids who came back to visit you before they moved. It is those moments that remind us why we became teachers.

      Liked by 1 person

      1. Yes, we do! It really is full circle when they return. How wonderful that you received a letter from your former third grader. Those are the moments that keep us going, and let us know we have made a difference. We believe in children!

        Liked by 1 person

  4. I think that Generation Z is set to do great things, Pete. Many of these kids are hardworking and enthusiastic to help solve some of the world’s problems. They are far more knowledgeable than our generation was at that age about daily news, the status of the planet and things like that. Of course, they have the internet and we didn’t. I am not as impressed with the millennials. There are great people from this generation out there but my experience in the work place with them has been poor. Entitlement has harmed this generation a great deal and we are reaping the rewards of that right now with this C-19 crisis.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. petespringerauthor July 9, 2020 — 11:27 pm

      Entitlement—you’ve struck on one of my pet peeves, Robbie. I knew that I had good parents growing up, but the realization truly happened when I met some of my students’ parents. It can be heartbreaking to watch children who have so much potential not get that needed support from home.

      Liked by 1 person

      1. I can imagine, Pete. That would be the hard part of teaching. The worst part of my job for me is trying to mentor the youngsters. So many of them have such a bad attitude to work and want to be given everything on a silver platter. Learning and improving doesn’t work like that, you have to put effort in.

        Liked by 1 person

  5. Beautiful words of hope, Pete and I agree. Our youngsters now have access to more knowledge and awareness. Society is evolving and they will carry it forward, creating much-needed change. May us ‘oldies’ support them in that.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. petespringerauthor July 10, 2020 — 1:20 pm

      I feel like that is part of our responsibility, Jane. It’s like raising children. You teach them as best as you can, but at some point, you inevitably have to turn over the reins (or steering wheel) and let them drive.

      Liked by 1 person

      1. How true, Pete. Yes. ♥️

        Liked by 1 person

  6. Regardless of how we see their abilities, they are our future whether we like it or not. And, I agree that you cannot put all of a generation into a box, as their are exceptions to every generalization. We have handed them a challenging world to live in and it is my hope that they will have learned from our failures and do so much better than our own generation. My only complaint is a sense of entitlement that seems predominant within the younger culture, but again, these are random events and not indicative of any individual. Our best and greatest future lies within the hands of these children. If we had worked as hard at educating and supporting our youth as we have at destroying our planet, we would have no worries. Great post, Pete!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. petespringerauthor July 10, 2020 — 1:28 pm

      Thanks for your thoughtful post, Brad. There’s no doubt that there are plenty of entitled brats out there. Having watched a lot of parents interact with their children as a teacher, I think you are probably right in your assessment. Sometimes nonpresent parents try to make up for their lack of involvement by buying their children extravagant gifts. This, of course, isn’t doing them any favors in the long run.

      I’ve got plenty of faults, but one of the best traits I inherited from my parents was the ability to work hard. If parents could teach their children these life lessons, that would be a much better gift.

      Liked by 1 person

  7. Great post, Pete, and so true. Not only is the future in good hands with our kids, our kids are in good hands with special teachers. Kudos all round.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. petespringerauthor July 10, 2020 — 1:35 pm

      It does go hand in hand, Norah. Every year presents its own set of academic challenges, but we sure are having to come up with creative solutions these days. What are schools in Australia proposing this coming school year? Are the COVID cases low enough that things can return to “normal.” The most likely scenario here in California is that some children will attend school on Mon./Wed., while others will go to school on Tues./Thurs. Friday will be rotated between each group. This essentially means kids will likely be at school for half of the time. I imagine this will be supplemented with online education.

      Liked by 1 person

      1. Our school year matches the calendar year, Pete. We start in late January and finish in early December. Most schools stayed open until Easter this year, then most schools worked online for the next six or seven weeks, returned to school for the last three or four weeks of term 2. They (most) have just had 2 weeks holiday and will be returning to school next week. We are doing pretty well with COVID in Australia. We have a few advantages over other countries which has helped. Unfortunately, there’s been a spike in Victoria which they are now trying to get under control. Schools in Victoria are having an additional week’s holiday and then only senior students and special education students will return to school. Others will return to online learning. I hope they can contain the outbreak so that children in other states can continue attending school and students in Victoria can return to school soon. It’s not easy for teachers, parents or students when there is all this disruption and uncertainty. But that’s life at the moment.

        Liked by 1 person

  8. I agree with you! Watching generations of young people become adults warms my heart. Yes, every generation has some collective strengths and weaknesses, or simply some differences from the generations that came before them, but that’s the beauty of active culture. Now what will they say about young people when they get old?

    Liked by 1 person

    1. old. I meant old…why can’t you edit comments…

      Liked by 1 person

      1. petespringerauthor July 10, 2020 — 1:41 pm

        I just realized that I could edit others’ posts, so I changed it for you. I agree with you. The person who wrote the comment should be able to edit, not the blog’s creator. There could be some nefarious maliciousness with this method. The creators of WordPress should have considered that.

        Liked by 1 person

      2. Thanks, Pete! Yeah, it’s weird that I can edit comments and the writer of the comment can’t, but I can see why they do this. Still, what prevents me to edit all of the comments to say fantastic things about me? No one will know…I didn’t receive a notification tha tyou edited something in my comment and there is no reason for me to go back to old comments, right? Just weird. I have to confess that if I see an obvious typo in someone comments, I sometimes correct it for them 🙂

        Liked by 1 person

    2. petespringerauthor July 10, 2020 — 1:47 pm

      You articulated your point very well, Margie. (Margie and Tony?) Active culture—I like that term. Perhaps today’s young people will adopt the same mantra when they get older. “You don’t know how hard we had it in our day.”🤣 One of the things I’ve noticed about many of today’s young people is that they have a much better intuitive sense than I do about technology. I suppose that’s not so shocking since that’s the world they’ve grown up in. I like to tease my techie son and tell him that I can’t wait for the day when his kids think he doesn’t know anything.🤣🤣

      Liked by 1 person

      1. Haha, it’s exactly what I tell my kids 🙂

        Liked by 1 person

  9. I feel the same way, Pete. I get to interact with students right before they are ready to start their first job, and they are an impressive group of young men and women. They are bright, motivated, and care about social issues. The future is in good hands.. By the way, nice interview with Norah!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. petespringerauthor July 10, 2020 — 1:54 pm

      You are in a much more interesting position dealing with young adults daily. It must be cool to watch some of those moments when they take significant steps into adulthood. Do you get a lot of opportunities to stay in touch with some of your former students as they start their careers? You must have a few stories of students who followed in your footsteps. (It’s time to start on that book, Borden.)😎

      Thanks for the compliment. One of the things I love about blogging is to talk to other educators from around the globe. I can tell Norah is equally passionate about education.

      Liked by 1 person

      1. I do stay in touch with a few of my students, thanks to LinkedIn. I’ve also had several as guest speakers; it’s amazing to see how quickly they become so professional!

        I have had two students pursue a PhD; one of them actually just got tenure at Villanova about a month ago! Another one came back the end of last year to present his research. They were both amazing students.

        And I agree, Norah seems incredibly committed to education.

        I think if I were ever to write a book, it would be fiction…

        Liked by 1 person

      2. petespringerauthor July 10, 2020 — 3:34 pm

        What a cool professional moment that must have been!

        I’m enjoying my first serious experience in writing fiction. It’s a whole different ballgame, but it appeals to the creative side of my brain. I’m sure you’ve got plenty of interests to keep you busy, but it’s been a kick for me.

        Liked by 1 person

      3. It was rewarding to see my former student get tenure and have such success as an academic.

        Liked by 1 person

  10. I remember when I first taught college students who had two working parents. They were used to being responsible for themselves, but often lacked the tools to do so. They really still needed parents as kids, and many of them suffered because of it. I think when it became necessary for two adults to work to support a family that things changed a lot.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. petespringerauthor July 10, 2020 — 1:58 pm

      I taught long enough to witness that same change, Elizabeth. One of the most important times in my life was when I moved away and got out on my own. It forced me to grow up and adapt. I learned that I could handle any situation, and that is so empowering. Parents who do everything for their children aren’t doing their kids any favors.

      Like

      1. We need to find a good balance don’t we.

        Liked by 1 person

  11. Hi Pete, I don’t like making generalization about any generation. I heard so many criticism about the Millennial but I find my daughter, son-in-law and their friends don’t fall into the stereotype. I’m not close to any generation Z, but I think they have the best technology than any generations before theirs. They’ll do great things.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. petespringerauthor July 11, 2020 — 9:53 am

      I find most millennials to be more like your family rather than the typical stereotype. I remember hearing the same message when I was a kid about how much harder things were in the previous generation. There is no arguing with how far we’ve come in terms of inventions, technology, etc., but the flip side is I think kids are growing up in a world with far more risks.

      Like

  12. Opens lots of comment paths. It’s a two-way street with Gen-Y and Z having this “OK Boomer” snark. Like every generation, there are a multitude of achievers and failures. All the rapists, murderers, drug dealers, etc. were among someone’s classmates. All the rich and successful world leaders didn’t all go to private schools–many were in public schools.

    Boomers have a wide swath of ages. Some who had great dreams and ideals in their 20s and 30s failed to achieve them. The same will be true of your students.

    There are those events that alter the opportunities to achieve dreams. The Vietnam War, 9/11 (Iraq and Afghanistan, but those were volunteers in smaller numbers with no draft–but with significant problems that resulted from disability). Next came the 2008 recession. Always something.

    NOW, it’s the pandemic. It may be more like Vietnam in what it changes for today’s youth. It will effect education, job prospects and much more. Parents may not have the means to support the schooling anticipated. Parents may die–even some of the kids.

    It’s all enough to consider an article for the upcoming Eagle Peak Annual–a comparison or contrast of the events that can alter the future of a high school seniors and college students. I may try going there myself–interviewing people or look for contributors.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. petespringerauthor July 11, 2020 — 12:24 pm

      Yes, snarky comments cut both ways. Every generation has its set of challenges to overcome. It’s part of acting like an adult to deal with the setbacks and tests that life gives us. A pandemic is not your ordinary obstacle, though.

      I like your choice of topics. I’ve thought of this issue as well in wondering why some children can overcome all of the dysfunction in their lives.

      Liked by 1 person

  13. I always have faith in the young, Pete. If I suffer from any syndrome, it’s the “my generation should have left a fairer, wiser, healthier world for them.” I’m really excited about the youth leaders who are taking on climate change, injustice, racism. Yay for them, and I want them to drag the previous generations into a better world. And their celebration was only delayed (if that’s what they choose). I hope they exercise their imaginations and have a big shindig in 2021. 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

    1. petespringerauthor July 24, 2020 — 8:33 am

      I wish that I had the self-confidence that I see exuding from much of today’s youth when I was their age, Diana. It’s no wonder that they become cynical at times when you look at all of the injustice in the world. For a country that likes to tout the principle of equal treatment, we sure let down some of our citizens in that regard. Let’s hope that today’s generation gets us back on course.

      Liked by 1 person

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