So which is the smarter generation?

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By : Bikram Vohra

I will probably be lynched by my daughters for writing this but let’s face it, today’s children are not smarter than their parent’s generation. Sure, they have all that electronic trivia cramming their brains but look how much they have sacrificed in surrendering their prerogatives.

For one, they read much less, which is criminal in itself. Then they have surrogates to do their thinking for them. They can even take computers and calculators into exams while all we were allowed was a slide rule.

But most importantly, they have given up their imaginations. We didn’t have so many diversions for the mind. We were inventive, we made do, and we improvised with a dexterity that has all but disappeared in this generation.

Ours was perhaps the last generation where “repair” had sanctity. We repaired the things we owned and we cherished them. Now, repair has become passé and everything can be easily replaced by a newer model. So children don’t need to keep it going, they haven’t the patience to put things right and that shows a lack of flexibility.

We were a lot more independent even though today’s generation believes they have greater freedom. Not exactly true. Our parents gave us a lot more space to develop because there was far less competition. Today’s kids have shortened childhoods, very limited years for fun; they are flung into the rat race prematurely and have to contend with parents on their case all the time. Our parents were never that involved. They didn’t need to be patrolling our lives against the spectre of failure, a pressure that makes this generation into zombies. Consequently, we grew up as individuals, today’s kids are produced from the same cookie cutter, ticky-tacky and they all look just the same (and talk, too.)

Let’s go further. Our hours were absorbing in that we had to do things. Today, kids don’t do. They play less, no wonder playing fields lie empty, they are more a generation of watchers than doers and when they do they do it on a computer screen or video game. Between the Net and TV and video and DVD and exposure to so much satellite viewing, these children spend inordinate amounts of time being inactive and feeding their minds intravenously.

You see them around, unable to fix anything. We were great fixers, ours joys were simple, today it is all in the model and the make and how many features all these possessions have and that is how we measure the present peer group. Our heroes scored goals; today’s heroes have more gadgets on their mobile phone.

Oh, indeed, today’s children have a much higher information database and global awareness but it is brittle and superficial and not street smart at all. I do believe the earlier generation had more resilience, a higher quotient for taking on adversity and were forced to use our minds and take The stairs everywhere, because there was no lift, no escalator, no short cut.

We were also politer, more courteous and expected less from our parents, we learnt to get on with it and walk unaided much earlier in life. Today’s children believe they are owed something and demand it.
As parents we are probably weaker because we are also the sixties generation that never grew up. We are poor parent figures as compared to the giants who were our parents and that could be a contributory factor to creating this confused generation that isn’t smarter. We were great kids, we are slightly stunted parents as we strive to maintain a youthfulness that has gone and scares us and we also give in too easily. One can only hope that this generation, so cosseted by science and technology will reverse the roles and give their children space to grow up as individuals and not smother them with pressure.

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