Last night at 9pm I heard youth directors (and probably teachers) across the country giving three cheers for Glee. Actually, those hip-hip-hoorays were probably echoed by anyone working with young adults these days, specifically older high school & college students.
It’s something that Marko has touched upon and waaay back when I was in youth ministry YS brought the topic up at national convention: kids remaining kids much longer, even *ahem* into their 30s. From the time my eyes were opened to this phenomenon, I’ve been struck by its far reaching effects, and simultaneously annoyed (which is quite self-righteous of myself, seeing as how I went through the very same thing and probably still have a few princess-like tendencies).
Allow me to draw upon a real-life example. I’m currently recruiting to fill several positions for a very well-known telecommunications company that wants to hire lots and lots of sales people by yesterday. They’ve got pretty tight standards (which I respect) – an employee won’t be hired if they’ve been fired in the past 7 years, doesn’t show a lot of excitement and enthusiasm, isn’t a go-getter with some internal drive for sales, etc. And they’ll take personality over experience. If you’ve got that bright, sunshiney personality but have only spent your working hours waiting tables or ringing up sweaters, they’ll still consider you (which is pretty gracious for a sales position). The pay is better than what my husband is making, benefits start day one and you can control your earnings with commissions, on top of a base salary.
You’d think this would be a cake position to fill, right? Well, it turns out that those who just graduated college (the target candidate), don’t like to work late hours, want more money and really don’t want to have their pay based upon their performance. In short, after talking to many of these kids, they want to do little to no work for the fewest hours possible and be paid more than their parents for it.
Don’t we all.
Glee last night touched upon the fact that kids don’t want to do it if it isn’t “fun.” Husband comes home amiss every day with that fact, and any effort he gives at upping the fun factor is usually met with “how lame” because apparently “fun” can only be categorized if zero learning takes place. And it can’t be fun if it’s also work, right?
I loved the way Glee contrasted 2 teachers who wanted the same thing for the students: to feel special and to learn. And kudos to the directors for showing the underlying concept that all-fun, all-the-time, without roots and depth and structure, leads to loneliness (you know it’s good art when you can’t put words to what you just saw but your heart is saying, “yes, that’s it!”). Living without regard to consequences eventually leads to emptiness.
I can’t offer a solution. I’m not really even able to name the reasons we’ve landed in this place. Perhaps it’s parenting, perhaps it’s the way the college years aren’t encouraging more independence, but I’m guessing it’s largely more cultural than that. You know me, I’ll blame everything on our consumerist culture. But I do believe that we have a role in helping these kids-turning-adults to grasp onto responsibility. As Schuester said, “we also need to teach them that their view is not the only view that is important.”