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#208850 - 10/01/10 09:50 PM Re: Are we raising a generation of nincompoops? [Re: MartinFocazio]
LED Offline

Registered: 09/01/05
Posts: 1474
I think it has a lot to do with a lack of emphasis placed on critical thinking skills. Teach someone to be inquisitive and the rest takes care of itself.

#208852 - 10/01/10 10:48 PM Re: Are we raising a generation of nincompoops? [Re: Blast]
Todd W Offline
Product Tester

Registered: 11/14/04
Posts: 1928
Loc: Mountains of CA
Originally Posted By: Blast
While I agree somewhat with the article's conclusions, how many of have all the skills and abilities of our parents? Or think of it this way, how many of your parent's skills are obsolete now?

That being said, we are trying to install in our kids a strong skill set including math, science and engineering. I keep thinking that someday those that understand the world will rule the world... crazy


I`m constantly teaching my old man new things, or should I say we are constantly breaking things and learning new things together. laugh

As far as his skills obsolete... nope.
Are they not taught in schools anymore... yep.

There's a very clear line between social classes and skills of now and skills of the `past`. How many kids brought up in nice neighborhoods have any idea how to replace a spark plug on their lawn mower, what about change a flat tire on their bike... most people now take that stuff in to get worked on. Now go to a blue collar neighborhood and look how many people can do the above, and much more.

The skills are moving to different social classes, and kids with interests such as wood working, auto mechanic, etc are looked down upon by some of todays society.

It's rather sad the "hands on" "make it yourself" etc.. type skills, and jobs are often the ones kids of today have NO interest in.

I`m not old by any means, and also not a teen but growing up we didn't have auto mechanics or wood shop offered at our high school. The JC does offer this, and many welding classes though!

Parents of today need to let their kids know it's OK to make things with your hands, and repair... the bigger problem is these parents have no understanding or interest themselves it seems.

-Todd (Who's a computer programmer as well as a metal fabricator, tractor driver, and more!)

PS: Sorry for long post/rant. I just had this same convo with someone else, and it's rather sad.
Self Sufficient Home - Our journey to self sufficiency.

#208853 - 10/01/10 10:56 PM Re: Are we raising a generation of nincompoops? [Re: MartinFocazio]
MDinana Offline

Registered: 03/08/07
Posts: 2186
Loc: Bluegrass
Originally Posted By: martinfocazio

Are we raising a generation of nincompoops? And do we have only ourselves to blame? Or are some of these things simply the result of kids growing up with push-button technology in an era when mechanical devices are gradually being replaced by electronics?"

Yes (but, hell, don't blame me - I haven't procreated!)
No. It's too much baby'ing on the parts of parents, not letting their kids face real life, "protecting" them from everything (sunblock, bug spray, bike helmets, knee pads, elbow pads, car seats til 8 years old, fighting the ref so they don't have to lose a game, parks with fences, "allergies" to everything under the sun just because you saw it on TV, etc, etc, etc, etc.)

The world's superpower is falling fast from it's perch. Our rise and fall took just over 200 years. Thanks a lot, Baby Boomers. Way to raise your kids as a bunch of nincompoops.

(everything here is my opinion solely!)

#208862 - 10/02/10 02:10 AM Re: Are we raising a generation of nincompoops? [Re: MartinFocazio]
sotto Offline

Registered: 06/04/03
Posts: 450
I work at a place that has a summer work program for kids. One of these kids, about 18 years old, had very wealthy parents who had given him a mint fire-engine red original 1964 Ford Mustang convertible. He came up to me one day and said, "Can you help me? My car has a flat tire?" I said, "Sure, no problem. Show me."

So he took me down to the parking ramp and, sure enough, one of his tires was flat as a pancake. I helped him find his jack, spare, etc and together we changed the tire.

As it was leaning there against the rear bumper, he nodded toward the flat tire and said in complete seriousness, "What do we do now? Throw it away?"

As my wife, who has been a teacher of gifted students for 40 years always says, "Common sense is the new Gifted."

#208865 - 10/02/10 11:09 AM Re: Are we raising a generation of nincompoops? [Re: MartinFocazio]
MartinFocazio Offline


Registered: 01/21/03
Posts: 2148
Loc: Bucks County PA
Interesting perspectives, and I think I'd like to add to the fire a little, because, although I was being a little silly with the addition of the "article" about boomers and computers.

First of all, the cult of fear that expresses itself in wanting to be "safe" is fed, managed and grown by the news media industry, which, I need not remind many here, is in business to sell advertising, not to make you feel good.

You can't get eyeballs to screens with news stories about yet another shooting in some poor urban neighborhood - that's a dog bites man story - so they constantly seek the edge cases - and they inject primal fear directly into your brain stem with the one, horrible, improbable and utterly unexpected thing that happened to a few of the 6 billion people on this earth. Maybe there was an ebola outbreak. Maybe a bridge collapsed. Maybe some new bacteria is eating the eyes out of people's heads. And even if 10,000 people are affected by New Horrible Thing, in the grand scheme of things, that's not many people, but it makes good news.

Grow up on a constant diet of new fears piped in on your 42" screens that are never off and couple that with the instinctive desire to protect your kids from harm, and you end up with kids wearing helmets to walk to the end of the driveway because once a tree branch fell and hit a kid just right and killed him.

And yet...and yet...

Fortunately, I think that the "dumbest generation" (and I like that term) is self-limiting. Yes, the USA has passed some sort of milestone of leadership in the world (we think we're #1 in so many areas - we're not when it comes to education, prevention of infant mortality, literacy, and many other measures) and we may never regain that lead (I personally think it's China's turn - again - to be The World Power).

But it's not all bleak.

I was at the Maker World Faire in New York City last week. There were tens of thousands of people there - in fact our very own Charlie was there (but I missed connecting with him) as well as many other people I connect with online.

The Maker Faire was the opposite of the safety obsessed world we live in. They had Jet Powered (valveless pulse jet) metal pony rides. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=iUYlC-ECS3U

Note the warning sign in the background on the right. "This Ride Will Kill You"

Note the crowd (which included me)standing close. There were plenty of people who wanted to ride.

My kids enjoyed the various things to do there, and there was no padding anywhere. There were sharp metal edges and fire-spewing canons 3' from my son's head on the human-powered carousel. There were aerial nylons suspended as a swing over asphalt - if you fall, it's gonna hurt. Some kids did fall. They bled. They got cleaned up by their parents. They went back to play. No lawyers, just band aids and new skills learned.

What I'm saying is the cult of stupidity is not as big as you think. There are plenty of people who, like us, tell their kids "if you can do it, you are allowed do it. You might get hurt. Be careful. Ask me if you're not sure what to do."

There are plenty of people who know that skinned knees and broken arms aren't typically life threatening. My son participates in speed-roller skating - you should see all the kids out there! And when they crash, it's at 18 to 25 miles per hour, they hit hard.

We don't see these kids - until they fail - and then we're all reading "what irresponsible parents" let their 16 year old sail around the world, who would let their 13 year old operate a tractor? who would let their 11 year old go on a 6 mile bike ride along the canal? who would give a 16 year old a rifle?

There are plenty of people who tell a kid "here's a rake, get to work" and there are plenty of 15 year old kids I've met at the firehouse who are able to figure stuff out.

But it seems that these kids don't excite the news media as much, so we don't see them much (although our Canoe Parade with the Canalligator was in the local paper paper !)

Anyway...it's not all bad.

#208878 - 10/02/10 09:51 PM Re: Are we raising a generation of nincompoops? [Re: Todd W]
Mark_R Offline
Old Hand

Registered: 05/29/10
Posts: 853
Loc: Southern California
Originally Posted By: Todd
It's rather sad the "hands on" "make it yourself" etc.. type skills...are often the ones kids of today have NO interest in.

I've heard similiar complaints from my Wife about the toys that are being sold for the little one today. Most of us had the proverbial "big bucket" of legos, wood blocks, tinker toys, etc. growing up. Sometimes they came with a booklet with a dozen projects in it. Now the kits are for a single project and that project only. The same thing goes for matchbox cars, dolls, etc.

The current generation has not been required to exercise imagination in their play, only to follow a given set of rules and instructions. When they encounter the proverbial "ice cube tray", they lack the skills to figure it out for themselves. Personnaly(sp?) I figured out the ice cube tray from watching Mom break the cubes loose.
Hope for the best and prepare for the worst.

The object in life is not to be on the side of the majority, but to escape finding oneself in the ranks of the insane

#208881 - 10/03/10 01:15 AM Re: Are we raising a generation of nincompoops? [Re: MartinFocazio]
sotto Offline

Registered: 06/04/03
Posts: 450
I'm still workin' on the ice cube tray, but I really became an expert at squeezing that little red dot of color around through the margarine in the clear plastic bags that my mom used to buy near the dawn of history.

I bet 99% of the people here don't have a clue what I'm talkin' about. ;-)

#208885 - 10/03/10 02:52 AM Re: Are we raising a generation of nincompoops? [Re: MartinFocazio]
Art_in_FL Offline

Registered: 09/01/07
Posts: 2432
Every generation tends to look at the kids of their day and see them as substandard. There are inscriptions from several hundred BCE that make many of the same complaints. The evidence is that no matter how weak and dumb the kids seem collectively they always do okay. If any generation had failed catastrophically across the board we wouldn't be here.

Kids tend to adapt to their situation. Situations change. The knowledge, skills and personality traits that worked for our ancestors are not the same that are vital today. The ability and willingness to work sun-to-sun tilling a field isn't so important.

Kids adapt. But also, we have adapted. We too easily forget that when we were young we were stupid and weak. Give them time. Don't underestimate them.

#208886 - 10/03/10 02:52 AM Re: Are we raising a generation of nincompoops? [Re: MartinFocazio]
2005RedTJ Offline

Registered: 01/07/09
Posts: 475
Loc: Birmingham, Alabama
More than anything, what I see on a day-to-day basis is simple lack of reasoning. Whether it be deductive reasoning at figuring out how to do something without having someone personally spend an hour holding your hand or more complex things like troubleshooting or improvisation.

I spend a lot of my time at work improvising on-the-spot solutions to problems after having to troubleshoot said problems. I've seen things that would make your head spin.

Like a technician installing a device that has an adjustable address wheel that goes from 1 to 5. And he's already lost the directions, and we've never installed one like it before. I arrive to help, it's set to address 1 and it isn't working. I change the address to 2, no go, 3, no go, 4, now it works. How hard was this?

I see every day that simple tasks like changing a tire or replacing a fuse just wreck a lot of people's day. So many people just get the "deer in the headlights" look the minute anything out of the ordinary happens.

#208887 - 10/03/10 03:17 AM Re: Are we raising a generation of nincompoops? [Re: MartinFocazio]
AndrewC Offline

Registered: 12/27/09
Posts: 59
Loc: Boise, ID
I don't think this is a generational issue. The baby boomers have plenty of technical incompetence of their own. Most of my middle-aged coworkers view a closet door off its tracks as a reason to call maintenance, rather than simply fixing the door.

I also see a complete inability to troubleshoot in some my parents' generation. I've been called to dozens of houses to power cycle a wireless router. Even after I walk them through how to unplug the router and plug it back in, fixing 90% of the problems, they still call me as soon as anything stops working.

There are definitely situations where my generation will, on average, be less equipped than the older generation. I would argue it's a matter of experience, not of ability. Our experiences have equipped us to work with different tools and at different tasks than prior generations. That's normal, and not a sign that we're all nincompoops.

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