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What Could We Possibly Ever Learn From "Kids Today"? (49/365)

Adults can learn a lot from kids. We just have to be willing to do it.

This thought has been marinating (or perhaps, ruminating), since reading this Twitter thread by Nicolas Cole. It’s a dose of reality, a reminder, that we can all do better.

As a parent of adolescents, I learn unexpected lessons daily. And as a professional educator, lessons surface for adults each and every day.

The question is, what are the actions we adults take on the lessons we're presented?

Consider what “kids today” experience.

  • The 24-hour “BREAKING NEWS” cycle.

  • Immediate access to (unsupervised and underground) social media platforms, laden with soundbites and opinions, with a challenge of deciphering fact from opinion.

  • Shifting roles and responsibilities, assuming adult roles while they inhabit young people’s bodies, minds, and spirits.

  • “The usual” personal. social, emotional, and intellectual upheaval that kids navigate, as part of developmental growth through adolescence.

Plus, the suspension of reality as a result of a global pandemic.

Young people’s lives are impacted by all they learn, in real time, in “real life”.

And then there’s school, trying to find it’s level, it’s relevance, in these frenetic times. Often the most valuable lessons learned at school are part of an unwritten, unintended curriculum.

And the test, is not on paper, it’s life.

Do we pause to think about that?

On occasion?



The unfortunate reality?

Kids today are learning. However, not every adult will take the time to understand, to walk in their shoes, or retrace adults’ own sometimes painful steps down their own tumultuous memory lanes. Not every adult is going to remember, acknowledge, or admit we were all “there” once.

How many chances do adults miss, to learn with and from kids?

The good news?

Some adults "get it". And some adults are open to learning.

Kids remember those adults and lessons (albeit unintended) about how to treat others.

“Kids today” are different. Not in bad ways, just different ways.

This theme has been surging consistently, in recent years. The theme of “missed opportunities” has also surfaced. If we adults are not careful, we may just find ourselves speaking a different language than our students.

Adults speak a language of teaching. Kids speak a language of learning.

Kids speaking iteration and innovation. Adults, speaking “how we do things”.

If we aren’t careful, our students will be speaking a language they’d hope we’d taken the time to understand. And we’ll still be speaking the language we grew up speaking, waiting for them to meet us where we are, instead of the other way around. We’ve got a lot to learn.

We just have to be willing to do it.

Uncharted territory? Yes.

Fear of the unknown? Sure.

A resistance of change, to budge from the ways of our own comfort?

No doubt.

“Evolve, or die”?

Now is the time to resist underestimating kids; it’s the time to look to them for hope.

They have answers (and more importantly, lots and lots of questions). They don’t get caught up with the stories in their heads, or paralyzed in fear. They iterate and innovate. And they do so, unassumingly, and with the best of intentions, to help and to solve problems.

So, what if we took the time to trust?

What if we created space for students’ voices to come out and be celebrated?

What do we risk, if we took a chance and modeled this for kids and maybe for our fellow, fear-filled adults?

We’d give ourselves the chance to learn something new, in this case, from a future writer and entrepreneur, as successful as this one, who was doubted and underestimated by an adult.

Thank you for the reminder, Nicolas Cole, for us adults to be better, for “kids today”.

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