Scott Schimmel 0:20
It seems like more people are concerned for kids and the state of their welfare and the state of their future than ever before. And that's a really, really good thing. Welcome to the YouSchool podcast for another episode. I'm Scott Schimmel, the host. And today I, we're going to talk about what I've been really spending 20 years of my life, the last 20 years thinking about, which is this- the specific challenges that kids are facing today. So I'm gonna It's a short episode. But this is one I actually really, really want to hear from you. I want your feedback. I want to know, from your perspective, I've been asking this question to some friends and educators and parents lately. And I think it obviously starts with the obvious mental health. And I almost want to say like, I want to park that to another episode, we've we've been covering that. We are going to cover that. And post-COVID, the world we're living in today, this is for sure. Kids in crisis, kids are in crisis. And it's you have all these factors of social media, mobile phones, more disconnection, more isolation, more pressure on kids, isolation over a year and a half, two years. The state of the world, there's a lot of stuff that's going on, clearly. But I want to talk about some of the things the the other things that concern me about kids as it relates to them transitioning to a healthy, thriving adulthood, a life that is deeply meaningful, a life that matters a life that's filled with happiness and fulfillment, that kind of thing. So through that lens, here are what I would say are the key challenges kids are facing. The first one, I think it's this, to call it expectations. But it's it's, it's this idea that kids can meet their expectations. It's not that necessarily the expectations we have for them. But it's the expectations that they fulfill. So the simple idea is, to a kid's perspective, I'm supposed to do what I'm supposed to do, which is go to school, put my head down, do a good job, do what I'm told, go to practice, be involved. And then then on the other side of me doing that deal, obey my side of the contract, then I'm going to receive these things, college admissions. Job, and this is where it gets fuzzy job, a career, a life. But it's very capable. It's very possible. I think this has happened really throughout time. But I'd say especially now what I'm concerned about is that kids can do everything they're supposed to do. They can excel in school, they can overachieve, but they can miss out on the essential and practical building blocks that they need to build a life of significance, a life that matters. Because that's not the point of the current system. Secondly, their exposure, the kids don't yet know who they are, how the world works, what matters most in the world, how to organize themselves, how to prioritize what matters most. And they certainly don't know how to design a personal roadmap to figure out success both in school and career but also in life. They're not exposed to that. So limited exposure. And I and I, my big thesis is we can expose them to this, we can actually guide them through a process, a critical thinking reflection process, that they are more than capable of, they are developmentally capable of doing it. But we have not yet inserted it into the system, we have not yet deemed it as a part of what we would say is a successful childhood. So they aren't exposed to the world that they're, and not going to be exposed by the current system. Third, awareness, they are very limited in their awareness of what the world is like. And again, when the system is not set up for them to be exposed to opportunities in the world. And for me as a as an example, only seeing a really limited scope of what it looks like to live well as an adult, meaning both career but also family. I had this kind of really small slice, and I had a bunch of adults involved in my life teachers, coaches, family, friends, aunts and uncles. But it wasn't set up for me to talk to them, or to hear from them about all this stuff that really matters in life. It really the transactions I had with them, the interactions I had with them, were transactional. They were about school, they were about what do you know, if there was a conversation, it was What do you do in the summer? Where are you going to college? Really short, transactional conversations, not about how other people put together a life that matters, all those things. Next, pressure, I believe that kids are under more pressure than ever, and that continues to increase particularly from, we'll get to this next, college admissions. But they're not only under pressure from will you make it in life, will you make it into a school, but also just the the pressure of adulthood. That hasn't helped.. that they haven't been supported to discover what it means. And I just read this article the other day in the Wall Street Journal. This guy, this guy who's written an amazing book about the coddling of the American mind, Jonathan Haidt, he has a new book coming out. And this, this article was an interview with him about that book. And he talked about how kids are now being raised and formed in space. And he's he used this analogy, if, if you were to imagine a human being growing up in space, we would anticipate deformity. They would not, because the lack of gravity, the lack of friction, the lack of being in the right environment, they, their their muscles wouldn't develop, their bones wouldn't developed, and they would be deformed. And his analogy then was we because of in 2012, mobile devices and selfies and social media, kids are now being raised in in the same idea- space. They're not face to face, shoulder to shoulder as much as they were, drastically not as much as they were a generation or two ago. And so they are missing out on the best opportunity for them to grow up. And, and, and not having the opportunity to do that in a really safe, low stakes environment. And what we know about stress and pressure is that it really dilutes decision making when you're feeling like you're under stress and pressure, pressure to fit in pressure to conform pressure to be accepted. You're trying to figure out who you are. And you're getting feedback, distorted feedback through things like social media. Yeah, you cannot form a healthy identity. You cannot make clear, conscious decisions. That's not good. Finally, the hyper competitiveness of getting into college, I went to a really good university. It was a long time ago, I was not only accepted, but I was given the maximum academic scholarship that you could get as a student at the time. Not too long ago, I ran into a friend from college, who now works at our school at our alma mater, in the admissions department. And I was sharing with her and I was asking her about that, how much has it changed? How hard has it gotten to get into our very school. And I said, I remember my SAT, I remember my GPA, I remember. And obviously, I know where I went to high school. So in that package, I just was curious would I get in? Would I get a scholarship? And she said, I wouldn't be on the bubble to get accepted. And I certainly would not get an academic scholarship, by any means. I might not get in get into the very school I went to, and they paid money for me to go there. Not too long ago. And I was a good student. So it's you've probably heard this, if you're a parent, or educator. There's always that kid who's got the four point whatever GPA who didn't get in to a very simple place. What does that do? What does it do and the stakes feels so high? To kids? These are all huge challenges. And the theory is they probably will figure it all out later, they'll probably figure out success and happiness and fulfillment, significance, how to build a life that matters. That's the kind of stuff you figure out well into your adult years. But my pushback would be what if they could
figure it out earlier? What's the cost of that? What is the value of that? So those are some of the challenges that I'm seeing for kids. Those are concerning to me as a parent of three kids, two teenagers, someone involved in kids' lives someone involved in this world. But what do you think, what am I missing? What's, what concerns you the most? And then what do you see is working to help support kids to make the transition? The challenges that kids are facing, I believe are extraordinary and require certainly not us to do the status quo to not do business as usual. That's really where we're going with the YouSchool trying to figure out the right form, and modality for us to come alongside families and schools, to give kids what they need to work through these challenges and come out the teenage years with clarity, confidence, about their identity, about their purpose here on Earth, and how to put together beautiful, thoughtful relationships. So thanks for your help on that, I need it.
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