As a former English teacher who is now running the rat race of corporate IT politics, I recall the dismay I felt from many of my students who often displayed a general lack of desire to pursue anything. Often, I would hear comments that they have (had) nothing to do and that they were bored. As a new father (9 month old daughter), I often wonder what experiences I can control (and those I can not) that will shape my daughters imagination and desire to seek opportunities to improve herself, mentally, physically, and spiritually.
Having taught in several rural (bedroom/farm) communities and several upper-middle class and upper class schools, I often ran across students who often claimed a lack of hope for the future, and several who were so self-defeated they wanted to climb back into their hiding spots so they didn't have to deal with it all. One scenario: In a rural community (many farms, no industry), I was in a 400 student high school, grades 9-12. One 9th grader asked why I was there. I replied that I was studying his teacher's methodology, process and procedure. I then asked him what he might want to do after graduation. Pondering for a moment, he deadpanned, "Mom and Dad will be around for awhile and after that there's my sister." As fate would have it, he in fact graduated and returned to his parent's home to work on a local farm and a nearby grocery store, never desiring anything more.
Though this is only one student's story among the hundreds I was involved with, I was continually amazed that so many of them felt degrees of hopelessness and despair wondering what they were going do after graduation. I always took this as an opportunity to share my breadth of academic (undergrad + grad), athletic (high school, collegiate, & professional), fraternal, entrepreneurial, and social experiences that have given me a tremendous amount of knowledge on many different subjects that I would not have received in any other fashion. I can only hope that they were able to see that life is about so many different things than just getting a paycheck to pay for a roof and some food.
I agree that kids have more to do today than at any other time in history, but most don't know what to do with it. Many are scared at the enormity of it all. (The more you know, the more you realize you don't know!) Hopefully, they have parents to guide and shelter them from things to allow them to succeed in several things to build confidence that will allow them to explore.
So many thoughts and so little time to discuss them all. More to follow....