Michael's Monthly Column "Throwing My Loop"

Throwing My Loop…    

By:  Michael Johnson  


     Some 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 results!
     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 did.”
     “How true,” said Eve with a sigh. “I had to make their clothes. Had to make ours, too. We didn't even have clothes.”
     “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 money?)
     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.”
                                                                                                   – Paul
                                                                                            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 mine...

“Unless someone like you and me
cares a whole awful lot...
nothing is going to get better.
It's just not.”

                                                                                         -- Theodor Geisel
                                                                                            (Dr. Seuss)

                                                                                         – Michael Johnson











Healing Shine

Sharon and Rowdy



Please stop
and sign our Guestbook

Send Michael
an Email

Michael Johnson Books
1172 CR 4122  Campbell, Texas 75422  (903) 413-5167

Copyright © 2003 Michael Johnson Books. All rights reserved.