September 1, 2023 at 12:03 pm

‘My students put in way more effort than I did at their age.’ Teachers Talk About The Positive Trends They See With Kids Today

by Trisha Leigh

TeachersPositiveTodaysYouth My students put in way more effort than I did at their age. Teachers Talk About The Positive Trends They See With Kids Today

There’s a lot of negative talk about “kids these days,” especially from the much-older generations that somehow still think they should be in charge.

What do the people say who work with them every day, though? Let’s find out!

Independent and self-reflective.

They are generally independent and self-reflective.

When I first started teaching I thought I had simply lucked out getting students who were consistently bright, engaged and curious, but having now taught at 3 different universities on 2 different continents, it seems to be a general trend across universities.

They are also, as noted elsewhere, generally kind and empathetic, and both my male and female students are usually pretty emotionally mature.

We love to hear it.

Nerd/geek culture is more accepted.

I feel like nerd/geek culture will dissolve and being a “nerd” will become the norm as technology advances.

I wouldn’t be surprised if that whole term was growing pains and us as a culture mentally adjusting to the rise of technology.

Emotional maturity.

This whole emotional maturity having improved in my generation compared to my parents thing is something I started thinking about when my mum described some of the stuff around divorcing my dad.

She was older than I am now when it all went down (in her 30’s) and did a whole host of petty and childish shit. I don’t think she’d do it now. But it seemed like everyone in that situation was equally emotionally immature.

Maybe my family and their friends specifically are just trashier than I and my friends are now but I can’t help but notice that my parents became emotionally matured at the same rate I did. I wonder if the internet has encouraged greater perspective taking and has made for a more empathetic and emotionally mature society.

These days if someone is being petty, they at least know it most of the time.

Way more effort.

University teacher here: My students put in way more effort than I did at their age.

Granted, the system has pushed them in that direction as well, but they typically have a better idea of where they want their career to go and are willing to put in the effort to obtain that goal.

By comparison, I and my cohort mucked about a bit more.

Great style.

With high schoolers I really noticed how better their style is.

Super random but compared to how lazy I dressed in high school it’s impressive.

Not afraid to be nice.

Students are not afraid to just be nice to each other. I teach elementary art and it is so nice when a kid who is pretty unskilled in art show another kid their work, and instead of getting laughed at (like when I was in school) kids are just so sweet and will say things like “Wow, I really love that!”.

I hear kids telling other kids “I think your work is beautiful” or “I really like your ideas!” and I just think of when I was in art kids made fun of my work.

In general I really don’t see kids being bullies as much as they were when I was a kid. I went to school in a really nice district too with few problems but I was bullied. Kids here have a MUCH worse home life than kids at my old school and while they could choose to take it out on others.. they don’t.

Kids help each other too. They know if a student is “special” and will try to help that student out. They’ll offer to walk them to the bathroom, or help them with their drawing, or very politely tell them to be careful with things.

Dramatic improvement.

I asked my wife (primary teacher) and she says empathy and adaptability are the two traits she has seen dramatically improve over her last 15 years.

Kids seem to be better at putting themselves in another’s position and understanding their situation.

Also they seem to be much more flexible with changes whether in the classroom or the outside world.

Very positive change.

My GF is a teacher and she is amazed at how uncool drinking and driving is.

Kids are like “that’s stupid you will kill someone…”

They literally make fun of kids who do it. In my day EVERYONE drove drunk.

Very positive change.

Self-reliant with research.

Spouse to a high school teacher, she had to say: they were born into the internet and social media,it is not something they had to learn.

Also as a result of which, they are also more self reliant with research.

And most importantly, contrary to the largest complaints, today’s kids are extremely hard working, and are less judgy of nerds (less judgemental in general)

Generally kinder.

They seem generally kinder to each other, especially to the kids who are different.

When I was in school, the kids who didn’t speak English as their first language, or were a little quirky or had disabilities were either avoided or viciously bullied.

Today that seems to be the exception rather than the norm.

Failure isn’t cool.

As a student currently in high school, the big thing for our generation, at least in decent schools, is that failure isn’t cool.

Sure if you suck up to the teacher and obsess over studying you’ll get made fun of a bit, but the kids getting Fs get made fun of a lot more.

A lot of the ‘popular’ kids are actually really smart and get top grades.

There’s a general awareness that we all need to do well and a lot of aspiration for the future.

Constantly amazed.

I worried about my son, who has mild autism, for the first ten years of his life.

I kept telling him that middle school would be hard, kids would tease him, etc. and that high school would be even harder in the same respect. 15 years ago, I would have been right.

Fast forward to now, and I’m constantly amazed and grateful for how well he is treated. Even the “jock” kids and big snotty idiot kids who would make perfect bullies are inclusive, kind, and even sometimes protective of my son.

I’ve told all of them how appreciative I am, and even got a few of them Christmas presents this year. Love those kids.

Mommy dearest.

Kids are openly kind and loving regarding their parents. I had a tough football player day in class once, “I love my mom, she’s my best friend!”

I see the old “Ugh my parents suuuuuuck!” mentality falling by the wayside recently.

They’re neater.

Kids are so much neater now, once they’re about 8 or 9. They pick up after themselves, are sort of organized, and don’t litter when they can help it.

I’ve even had kids at work that couldn’t reach the trash can so they’ll come up to the counter and hand me their trash.

One more social group.

I teach Junior high. Celebrity status of jocks is over: they are just one more social group on campus.

Smart kids have more respect from their peers. Multi-disciplinary excellence seems to be more valued than ever.

Girls and boys.

Girls ask boys out more often, boys are starting to expect girls to be more frank and straightforward with what they want more often.

Other than that just like my colleagues:

Generally kinder, more generous, understanding of differences, mature.

On the other hand, I find them generally more sad, maybe more cynical, and overall quite happily pessimistic toward the future, a kind of “ahah we’re so fucked” vibe I feel sometimes.

Passing grades.

I am a teacher at a high school in Missouri. All of the Stereotypes you hear/see in rural high schools are still prevalent. However, almost every ‘group’ works harder academically.

It is no longer cool to get F’s and fail. Even country boys who will never leave the farm or go to college care about getting passing grades.

600+ Students in our HS btw.

Existential angst.

I think it’s an interesting shift in terms of the brand of their existential angst.

Two or three years ago, kids talked about how society is on a downslope and there’s little hope for them to find jobs or have any sense of stability in their adult lives, but they had this rich sense of humor about it. They made memes about it and made semi-sarcastic comments about how the world they are inheriting is “trash.”

Conversely, my students this year seem to have given in completely to despair. So many of them are overcome with anxiety and depression, they often tell me that they don’t see the point in trying to apply to schools if degrees are going to be meaningless. I had a student argue with me the other day that existence itself is meaningless.

I don’t know if it springs from the trend towards greater awareness of social issues this generation seems to have; they are more depressed nowadays because they take on more of the existent social ills than past generations. I think their improved social awareness and activity are noble and very good steps forward, but it seems to be taking their childhoods away from them sooner.

Put issues aside.

They really get each other.

As much as they diss on each other, joke around, and yes, get to the point of blows, they can usually put issues aside.

Sometimes to a fault, but overall they are pretty understanding of each other.

Boom, friends.

With the dawn of meme culture, kids are getting competitive with comedy at an early age. When I was a kid, I had undiagnosed mental health issues so I was bullied a lot, and the only thing that kept me alive was developing my sense of humor. Sad as it is, young people have a pecking order and cliques, but a few things can transcend those boundaries and one of those is humor.

Coincidentally, I was into internet humor, meme culture, and PC games way before my peers were. Wanna hear something crazy? I was bullied for that. Specifically and mercilessly. If you ran a meme page and had a nice gaming pc at 10 today you would be a GOD. It’s honestly made a lot of kids that don’t fit in have at least SOMETHING in common with their peers.

All you have to do is yell FORTNITE or whatever meme is going around that week and boom you have a friend. I had one time where I was able to make friends like that and that was when Pokemon came out, similar concept.

You might think that kind of stuff is “cringe” or annoying or stupid, but if it can prevent someone from wanting to kill themselves at 12 like I was, I’ll allow it. Of course I don’t need to have it anywhere near me, but that’s a different matter.

I am loving every one of these.

It gives you hope for the future. Kind of.