Saturday, November 27, 2010

Chapter 5 - The Betrayal of the Mentors

Chapter 5 starts off telling about how an activist nonprofit organization, Partners For Livable Communities, sponsored a study of community arts programs for troubled and underserved youth. The main purpose of their efforts was to lower the rate of high school drop outs, by giving them a focus and a purpose. For many of these students, the long-term effect turned these troubled youths, into self-sufficient, confident, and creative citizens. Here, the author believes "that young people during those years most critical for moral development miss repeated and consistent immersion in activities framed within and around pro-social and pro-civic values orientations." "Left to themselves, teens have no forward direction. Their goals contrast and blur into meeting friends and "doing stuff" and the prospect of becoming a positive contributor to their neighborhood never even crosses their minds." I personally think this is quite a negative attitude and view of today's youth. I would like to think of someone with more knowledge and opportunities to meet with adults and leaders, that it would broaden their thinking and create opportunities that haven't even been thought of yet. I believe this author looks at "the cup is half empty" philosophy and tends to lump all young people in this category. Like everything, there are exceptions to the rule, and I would like to think of more young people doing good for their communities, than bad. In this particular study, it proved to turn kids around into working, responsible adults by having important people in their lives, such as parents, teachers, and mentors. These kids could turn out either negatively or positively, but this study showed that The Arts Program helped to turn them into responsible young adults.

According to Reich, there is a new generation coming, called "The Twixters". These are people age 22-30 years old, have a college degree or at least college coursework, come from middle-class families, and reside in large cities. What makes them different, is how they choose to live their lives after college. This is their time to work different jobs, live at home, and not have too many constraints to tie themselves down. This is their time to prepare for becoming an adult, according to Grossman. What makes this interesting is how the traditional adults in a young persons life responded to this, such as parents, teachers, and society.

It is the authors opinion that todays young adults not only need to be competitive in science, technology, and productivity, but also in the ways of culture. They need a lot of reading and writing and an involved home and school environment. This includes teachers, mentors, and family members who communicate with them when things are right and wrong. It is these formative mentors who need to remind young people that there is more to life than their social life. He reminds us that it takes a village to raise a child. He says it is flexible, but is concerned that it is breaking down with "The Dumbest Generation".


  1. Wendy, you got it right when you stated that the author looks at youth today as "half-empty glass." He did have a positive thought when he said that the arts can play an important part of education. The trouble is that that is the missing piece of today's education.
    I also found myself agreeing with Richard Poinier on page 180 that it is the adults that have the problem. The youth are a result of the world the adults have created.
    Although some college students may "party" (and always have), maybe it is a stress relief for the amount of pressure they are under. Most graduate with fulfilling careers.
    I found myself in total shock at the end of the chapter with what the author was saying or referring to. I can't believe he really said what he did, but I will save those thoughts for my reflection.

  2. Wendy, you have done a great job summarizing this chapter. The further I get in this book, the more fired up I get. I would like to sit down with this author and have him say half of what he does to one of the "dumbest generation" member's faces.
    At first, I thought the author was trying to be positive about the art program. These students are able to channel an area in which they are successful and not feel like a failure, like they do in "regular" school. I was shocked the author didn't mention the poor speech skills of these students. "You know," was a common phrase from the student on pg. 167. However, he instead focuses on how the student doesn't want to be traditional in his own work like Rembrandt or Picasso. Throughout this rant, all I could think is, "Isn't art self made? Art doesn't copy somebody else's work, but is something a person creates from within them. Picasso is not famous for copying someone else's work." I don't know, maybe the author doesn't understand what art really is. I wonder what he would say about composers or music artists. Are they just as bad because they don't replicate Mozart, Beethoven, or Brahms. (See, a dumbest generation member does know music history!)
    Then, the author creates yet another "group," the Twixters. This group I am also a member of. For one, I have graduated college and jumped right into a job. As for relationships and not settling down, I believe this is due to what we have all seen growing up. Most of my friend's parents are divorced and have moved jobs multiple times. Is there anything wrong with wanting to know who we are before getting married (a huge deal) or settling with a job (a huge deal). We don't want to go through what we have seen our parents and friends' parents go through. Duh! My final thought about "Twixters" is, we read, listen to lots of different music, follow politics, travel, AND have fun. What is wrong with combining all of it into one?
    In the end, I really think it is a matter of balance. Do I feel like my mentors failed me? Absolutely not. It is because of the adults in my life that I am who I am today. However, I learned more from my peers. I learned from their success and failures. I learned from watching, listening, and discussing. I learned from my own mistakes and celebrated when I succeed. Without the mentors in my life, I would have not known which was a success or failure. It is a matter of taking advice from those mentors and learning from those around you.
    And one final thought, the vitality of democracy being broken down within the United States is completely untrue. We, the dumbest generation, do care a great deal about democracy and politics. It was a great deal of conversation when I was in high school and only continued through college. I can say one thing, the dumbest generation, greatly feels as if the policymakers in D.C. don't seem aware of how their decisions will impact us when we are their age. The decisions, situations, and comments that have been made for years now feel uneasy to us and therefore why support a future for ourselves we disagree with. Our opinions and thoughts are not counted because of so-called "authors" like this who help support the notion we know nothing and are not well educated.

  3. Great summary. But I agree that the author's view is getting more and more pessimistic. It's such a hopeless, death sentence for this poor generation. I don't think I could read this book without getting disgusted and worked up if I was a member of this generation. As teacher, I work to rescue my students from lazy thinking, sloppy speech, a resistance to reading and work all the time.