As I ponder the anti-intellectual, anti-education, anti-science rhetoric of the national political campaign, I've been awash with pride over my 16 year old daughter as she completes the 26 mile plus Megatransect (a mountain marathon in PA). In many ways she's a typical kid, clinging to her iPhone, Facebooking, consuming too much caffeine, dissing school, but in other ways so extraordinary....
After coming back from a "Big Brothers/Big Sisters" event at the local College campus she remarked about the difficult lives of some of the kids that she's been helping to mentor. Off handedly she said something like "Kids are so trapped in their iPhone bubbles that they have no idea of the problems of others." When I shared her words with the students in my senior Psychology seminar at the College they agreed, one saying "It's true, it's like we're afraid to stray outside of our Facebook circle."
Yet my students are bright caring people. They are interested in the books we read and the work they are doing and, I think, yearn for more. But in a world that is pounding them with economic and social pressures it's not so easy to "break on through." Their timidity in speaking out is frustrating to a person like me who comes from a different world and a different time. But I get that they live in a world of conflicting consequences: Rewarded for the avoidant ways in which they lead their lives currently, but vaguely aware of the painful consequences that await them.
As for my own kid, with a bad cold today she will finish her mountain marathon, come home and bug me about leaving my cell charger plugged in (wasting electricity), ask me if I remembered to pick the last of the tomatoes before the first frost, and probably upload a couple more songs from iTunes (on my credit card). I couldn't be more proud.