showing respect in an age of rebellion

“The children now love luxury; they have bad manners, contempt for authority; they show disrespect for elders and love chatter in place of exercise. Children are now tyrants, not the servants of their households. They no longer rise when elders enter the room. They contradict their parents, chatter before company, gobble up dainties at the table, cross their legs, and tyrannize their teachers.”

Socrates said that, about 400 B.C. So maybe it hasn’t gotten worse; it hasn’t gotten better, either. I teach tyrants every day, actually. The young are always smarter than the old, at least until they get older.

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a spirit of responsibility in an age of opportunity

Today’s college graduates are often called the boomerang generation, a reference to their tendency to return home after graduation. I often joke with students about this, suggesting that they get their resume and job search in gear early so they won’t end up living in their parent’s basement.

It’s no joke, unfortunately, as I indicated in the essay that led off this series. Good jobs are scarce, and even if the economy improves they are lots of more qualified people waiting in line. A sense of entitlement complicates things, since it often means recent grads are waiting for the job to come to them. It won’t.

There is lots of advice out there, but I would suggest the most important is to quit watching old TV shows on Hulu and find something to do. And I don’t mean anything to do. I mean something important to do.

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a spirit of humility in an age of entitlement

In ordinary life we hardly realize that we receive a great deal more than we give, and that it is only with gratitude that life becomes rich. ~ Dietrich Bonhoeffer

This is the age of entitlement, and few things cause more difficulty for college graduates today than unreasonable expectations and overreaching self-esteem.

Self-esteem, as it turns out, is not actual ability. That’s why our department changed its mission statement a few years ago from developing confidence to developing credibility. We found that student had lots of confidence. What they needed was reasons for it.

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what hope looks like

For whatever was written in former days was written for our instruction, that through endurance and through the encouragement of the Scriptures we might have hope. Romans 15:4.

In a recent post, it’s a jungle out there, I discussed the daunting challenges confronting college graduates today. It’s not just that the job market is slow. In some ways graduates lack the emotional and psychological resources to cope with the sea of economic circumstances crashing on the beaches of their hearts.

Andy, a former student, responded that what my essay lacked was hope. He loved it, he said, despite what he called the “post-apocalyptic” mindset it engendered. But he believes an idealistic “blind faith” is necessary to move on and through these challenges. And I agree, up to a point.

Certainly my depiction was dark, and intended to be that way. But I did joke that sooner or later all of them will own an iPad. A culturally embedded resilience will help them overcome these challenges by “developing new industries and discovering fresh routes to affluence,” although I’m not sure they will or should define affluence in the same way.

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it’s a jungle out there

In a “Lament for the Class of 2010,” satirist Joe Queenen pulls no punches. Let’s just say it’s not funny.

He argues that a Pilgrim toddler had better prospects, since at least the economy was expanding. And he backs up his concerns with more than jokes and anecdotes. Two million college graduates are out of work and the unemployment rate for 24 year-olds is 17%, almost twice the national average.

They are entering a labor market that neither wants or needs them, “a world where they will compete tooth and nail for jobs as waitresses, pizza delivery men, file clerks, bouncers, trainee busboys, assistant baristas, interns at bodegas,” he says. Continue reading “it’s a jungle out there”