Are we raising a society of enabled kids?

Let me start by saying that I love my job, and as a teacher I try my hardest to do whatever it takes to help students be successful and not make excuses and complain (like the people I mention in this post). I just got to thinking the other day about what the heck in the world I can do in order to make my students WANT to do well in school, and realize that they CAN achieve whatever they want if they truly try. Aaaand I’m not ashamed to do a little late link up with one of my FAV bloggers Amanda for her Thinking Out Loud post.


I already mentioned some of my previous motivators, one of them being bacon, but believe it or not, I don’t want my students to only do homework because that means they’ll get bacon.

I want them to WANT to do the work.

As a teacher I do A LOT to try to inspire kids to try their hardest, but sometimes I feel my efforts are wasted. Again, I’m not trying to place blame or make excuses, but it seems like many students that I encounter have way more excuses than I do.

And it also feels like they like playing the victim, doing the least amount of work possible, and getting rewarded for simply doing what they are asked to do.

Don’t get me wrong, I also have a ton of amazing, over achieving, kind, talented students as well, I’m speaking in generalities as a result of my teaching experiences for the last 5 years in several different districts.

Kids don’t just come up with ideals, values, and work ethic on their own. They learn it. Not only from their parents and teachers, but from society at large. You have to wonder if the things our society values are affecting the attitudes, values and behavior of the people who hold the future of our world in their hands.

It constantly amazes me how some kids will recite, word for word, a popular TV commercial, but cannot recall the subject of the paper we’ve been writing for two weeks.

That when I notice 30 minutes into the period (because I’m so busy) that a particular student has been sitting there doing nothing because she doesn’t have a pencil. Like seriously!?!?!?? You just sat here for 30 minutes because you don’t have a pencil?

What if I simply just didn’t show up for work one day because I didn’t have a car. Yet I didn’t do anything about it. I didn’t call for a ride….I didn’t leave in time to take the bus…I didn’t start walking….I just sat there on the couch and stared aimlessly at the floor until someone asked what I was doing?

You have to wonder if our country and society, who seems to reward people who do the least and punish people who work the hardest, isn’t fostering this type of behavior. Why get a job when you could probably just get government assistance and sit home and do nothing? Why try hard in school when you can simply become successful by being a hot mess on some reality show? Why are these the role models that are acceptable for our children?

Not naming any names….

I’ll tell you I’m scared to bring a child into a world that thinks appearing drunk on a reality show is the epitome of happiness and success. Our kids expect instant success, immediate gratification, and expect to get high rewards for little risk.

I listened to an NPR podcast describing how we, as a Western culture, don’t value struggle as much as Eastern cultures (most specifically Asian cultures). We think that someone is either “smart” or “dumb”. If you are struggling with something, you are dumb and might as well give up. Eastern cultures consider struggling and perseverance as more valuable than simple intelligence. The podcast suggested this as a reason for Asian students succeeding so much in American schools. They are willing to try, persevere and struggle, while the American student is taught that if you’re struggling, it means you’re stupid and it’s something to be ashamed of.

Who is out there teaching that struggle is valuable? That hard work WILL pay off in the end, and you NEED to go above and beyond and constantly try to be better in order to get ahead in life. I feel like when most of my students face things they struggle with they give up and start playing flappy bird on their Ipads.

Anyway, at the risk of you completely abandoning this post (if you already didn’t) because I could probably go on forever about this, I’ll end it here and hope that I’ve given you something to think about. And again, I don’t want to make it seem like I’m complaining. I know the missing link. I, as a teacher, have to work tirelessly creating meaningful, authentic, engaging and FUN activities to create drive in my students. To be honest that’s what I love about being a teacher and I’m okay with that task. It’s not always easy to do every day when you’re being pulled in 10 different directions, but since I DO value struggle, I think I’ll keep working on it.


Thoughts? Do you think our society encourages enabling behavior?

Is it the school or the parent’s job to teach kids the value of hard work?



7 thoughts on “Are we raising a society of enabled kids?

  1. The Zen Kat

    Being a teacher is a TOUGH job! I salute you for it. I think it’s honestly the school’s and the parents’ jobs to help motivate a kid. Some kids lack the energy to be motivated though which could be partly genetic. Who knows! When in doubt, give bacon. haha
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  2. Amanda @ .running with spoons.

    I seriously love hearing teachers talk about issues like this because it means they’re passionate about their jobs — which is something we need more of! And I couldn’t agree more about how… err… sad it is that society so often rewards people for being an example of what NOT to be. It almost makes me afraid to have kids of my own…
    Amanda @ .running with spoons. recently posted…. thinking out loud #67 .My Profile

  3. Julie

    Great post. I work with students with mild/moderate disabilities and I feel like their mother (at 26!). I have had students who must be asked if they can find a pencil, if they need help, etcetera. They don’t think there’s a future out there for them, many of them think they aren’t smart enough and just don’t try. Why try when they keep failing? There’s so much else they could be doing, and even I fall into this sometimes. Sometimes I get sucked into all the media, internet, and everything and passively live life.

    At the same time, I’ve met students who will push me, ask me questions until they understand it. I’m not sure when this started happening, but I don’t remember it being a big part of my childhood. We got help when we needed it. I’m Asian and definitely agree with the NPR podcast; however, all my friends from high school (Asian and non-Asian) worked hard and asked questions. This was only what 8-10 years ago!
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    1. Andrea @ PencilsandPancakes Post author

      Yes I think it’s a matter of them not taking learning into their own hands. They have the attitude of wanting to do the least work and have the teacher just give them the answer- or worse the internet. I was talking with a science teacher who caught kids googling “how many centimeters are in ___ meters”. Like they should know how to do that (8th grade). Anyway, I know I can’t change every kid’s work ethic and values, but I can at least try.

  4. Jan @ Sprouts n Squats

    I think it is both teachers and parents responsibilities but I think it mainly falls to the parents as that is where so much of a child’s behaviour is learned from. If their parents watch certain tv shows and let them emulate them then that is not a good thing. I love your obvious passion for teaching and your students.
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