time ago, I saw a post on Facebook attributed to television
personality, Mike Rowe. He said, “We are churning out a
generation of poorly educated people with no skill, no
ambition, no guidance, and no realistic expectations of what
it means to go to work.” I hear that a lot. Actually, I've
been hearing it for years - often from some university
professors. Just recently, one told me, “These kids are not
like we were. We had to work!” That was in the 2019. I've
heard that before...
I heard “kids these days are no good,” in the 90's, I
heard it in the 80's, in the 70's, and in the late 60's when
I first began teaching. So naturally, I wondered, “Well,
when were kids good?” So I decided to do a carefully
controlled, first-class, exciting, experimental, research
paper on that very subject – and how excited you must be now
to realize you are about one-eighth of the way through that
very research based journal article! Here are the surprising
Turns out I was able to trace this idea that “kids are
not like we were” back to the 50's, Then I found articles
from the 40's saying kids had become worthless and also in
the 30's, then to my surprise, I found such statements
coming from the 1800's that young people had all turned to
sin, then how about this shocker?
“The children now love luxury. They have bad manners,
contempt for authority, 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.”
Socrates 469 – 399 B. C.
(What? Socrates? B. C.???) I had no idea kids were no good
that far back! My goodness, this problem was so much worse
than I realized. So fear not, dear reader. I did not stop
there! I continued my research into the distant past and
finally – finally – found the answer to when kids were good!
My search ended after poring (studying intently - “poring”
not “pouring”) over endless records and at last found what I
was looking for in the place so many have found what they
were looking for...the Bible! Yes Sir, brothers and
sisters – there I was right at the front gate of...wait for
it... the Garden of Eden!
Adam and Eve were sitting in the garden on a big rock –
no couches yet – watching their two little ones, Cain and
Abel, playing before them. Adam turns to Eve and says,
“These kids today have it so much better than we
“How true,” said Eve with a sigh. “I had to
make their clothes. Had to make ours, too. We didn't even
“We had to name all the plants – man, there were a
lot of those,” said Adam. “I'm still not through with
that and probably never will be. And don't even get me
started on how many animals there are.”
Eve said, “I had to make all the waste baskets and
trash containers, too. Oh, that reminds me – you need to
take out the trash.”
“What?” said Adam. “Why do I have to do that?
Why don't one of the kids do that?”
“Well, there you go,” said Eve. “That's just
the sort of thing I'm talking about. These kids today...they
won't even do that.”
“You know what really irks me?” asked Adam.
“What, dear?" said Eve.
“These two kids of ours – they had the best parents
in the world. You and me.”
“Well, sweetie, actually we are the only parents in
the world,” said Eve.
“That's exactly what I'm talking about,” said
Adam. “What if we hadn't been here to take care of them?
And look at them out there wrestling around. They just fight
all the time. One of 'ems gonna' end up killing the other.
And why don't they ever have their friends over from school?
What's the matter with these kids these days?”
And so you get the picture. Kids never were any good.
Case closed. Problem solved...or is it? See, there just this
little problem that bothers me. Indulge me a moment...
Some years ago now, my life changed. No need to explain
all the reasons why, but one result was I decided to spend
the rest of my days encouraging the people who had helped me
so – those people in education and those in agriculture.
(Couldn't I have picked at least one group with some
I began traveling around America and Canada targeting
three groups – education conferences, agri-business
conventions, and some corporate groups. That lead to a
number of engagements involving Professional Staff
Developments for teachers. In the early days, I dreaded that
so – because I was like everyone else. I knew kids these
days were no good. I mean after all, that's all you hear
from so many, so I knew kids these days were really armed
criminals passing themselves off as students. I knew none of
the teachers cared anymore and it “wasn't like it used to
be.” Then something happened...
I went to my first school. The school was in Oklahoma –
small and in the mountains.
Can you imagine how surprised I was to see all the
teachers neatly dressed, smiling, and most pleasant? Even
more surprising the students were quiet, polite, and
respectful. So I thought, “Mmmm...wow, I just lucked onto
one of the few good schools remaining in America.” Then
I went to Kansas and Wyoming and Montana and California and
Massachusetts, Virginia, Florida, Georgia, and I could go
on. Now some four-hundred in the past 20 years and guess
what? I was wrong about teachers, schools, and students!
Did I find some bad ones? Of course I did. I've met
some doctors, dentists, and lawyers who were idiots...but
not very many. And that's the way it was with schools - some
less desirable but the overwhelming majority were filled
with people who cared, who were trying to build something
and make it better...young human beings. And those
young human beings stunned me. So much better than I ever
expected. “Sir,” and “Ma'am” you to death. Not phony, but
pleasant and genuine and authentic. As one superintendent in
Oregon told me, “My wife and I would be honored to have 90%
of this student body in our home as our children.” He had
2,200 students! And don't even get me started on the Ag
teachers. There is no one like them. Everyone in education
could take a lesson from Ag teachers. They require much from
their students – more than most in fact. But there is
respect for the students there, there is inclusion, and
there is caring.
I doubt there are many people who have been in as many
different schools as I have. (Maybe a textbook
salesman or something.) And after all these years, I believe
this down in my core...If Americans could see what I have
seen, their hearts would soar with optimism! If you sit on
your backside in a cafe somewhere with all the other old
geezers and complain about how bad things are, it's easy to
believe everything has “gone to hell in a hand-basket.”
(Whatever than means operationally speaking?) But if you
were to dare to get off your butt and go see...you would see
teachers who care more than you knew and students who are so
much more than you ever thought. If you would only go to
where I have been – to Texas Tech, Texas A&M, Texas A&M –
Commerce, West Texas State in Canyon, To Texas A&M –
Kingsville, to Tarleton, to the University of Oklahoma, to
Oklahoma State, to Penn State, and to so many others. Just
go to those places and walk around the campus for thirty
minutes and come back and tell me “kids are no good these
days.” You won't be able to. You can't. I bet you could find
an Ag teacher somewhere that would tell you kids these days
are no good...but I bet you would have to look for him or
her a long, long time. If you would just go see...
“Now we see through a glass darkly, but when I am face to
face with you I see in part.”
1st Corinthians 13:12
And these good people have taught me something that
truly helps. I've seen it not just in Ag Teachers, (I'm
terribly biased toward Ag Teachers) but in so many teachers
and principals and superintendents. It's called “caring.”
That is what helps. Helps with the human, the horse, and
the working dog. Comes from an old favorite writer of
“Unless someone like you
cares a whole awful lot...
nothing is going to get better.
It's just not.”
-- Theodor Geisel
– Michael Johnson
BLUE and MIGUEL