I believe in my students– my wonderful, perfectly mentally healthy (inside joke), sometimes exasperating, students. When some well-intentioned soul mentions to me the inadequacies of our up and coming generation, I want to invite them to my college level psychology classes. When I am in front of a classroom looking at my students, I see hope. When they respond to a question or lecture, I hear hope. When I see that they understand and apply concepts perceptually and personally, I feel hope.
Yes, every generation has its bad boys and girls. Those individuals who make it seem that the world is “going to hell in a hand basket” have not been the sole property of this generation. It was written of Lord Byron, then in his early 20s, in 1812, that he was “mad, bad, and dangerous to know” yet his writing talent is still heralded today and little known is his dedication to the cause of the Greek/Turkish conflict. He put his military skill and money at the disposal of the Greek liberals. Winston Churchill, a young Tory rebel, crossed the floor of the House of Commons in 1904 to join the Liberals. This was quite the scandal in early 20th century England and was the first of many challenges and victories, amazing victories. Rebecca West, a 20 year old newspaper reporter, fell in love with married author H.G. Wells in 1913. West was quite liberated for the time–Wells was 46, but this did not bother her for she was not held by traditional conventions. She bore Wells a son out of wedlock, never asked for marriage, and pursued her own literary career. Albert Einstein was considered a failure as a young man and Elvis Presley was corrupting our young people based on the movement of his pelvis. Sometimes true success is open to interpretation and the road can be bumpy filled with u-turns and “roads less traveled”.
When I look at my Social Psychology class I see Kristi’s sense of purpose, Brittany’s willingness to help, Billie’s courage, Jocelyn’s confidence, Summer’s kindness, Thomas’ dignity, Abby’s questioning nature, Carrie’s steadfastness, Alex’s smile, Krystle’s sense of justice, Arlando’s quiet intelligence, Reanna’s dependability, Heather’s compassion, Jenny’s sweet spirit, Jacob’s mischievousness, Melissa’s desire to know, Tonya’s self starter instinct, Judy’s sensitivity, Cori’s creativity, Lee’s drive, Sarah’s strength, Scudere’s willingness to put it all out there, Vince’s humor, Wayne’s wisdom, Stephen’s sense of fun, Tim’s honesty, April’s determination, and Jodi’s calm.
I choose to see these positive qualities knowing that they and I have negative qualities also. It is life, it is fact, and I choose to believe that this generation, like all others, will make mistakes, but they will also make me proud. This I believe.