The Author

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I am a high school English teacher, and mother of two charming little ones of my own. I teach in a high poverty urban charter school, while I live in a typical American suburb that has frequently been rated one of the safest cities in the country. It is a paradox I struggle with constantly, but it is my life.

Tuesday, March 9, 2010

How Our Instant Gratification Society Affects Our Kids

Do you ever get frustrated at how much our society desires instant gratification? I don't think that we realize that this has an impact on education, but it does. I didn't exactly realize before today, but I see even more so today how much it is truly integrated into the fabric of who they are... and how negative it can be.

They are writing an essay for the Holocaust Remembrance Essay Contest. The topic is, "What can young people do to combat and prevent prejudice and violence in our world today?"

A large group of my kids seemed to just not care. They wanted to write their essays about "There is nothing we can do because prejudice and violence will always exist."

At first, I was really saddened and upset by this because I felt like they just don't care. Like they just feel like, "Eh, why bother?" But then, after talking to them, I realized more and more that what my history colleague pointed out is much more true. It is not that they don't care; it is that they just feel that the problem cannot be fixed quickly, so it must not be fixable.

I just wish I could make them see that the battles worth fighting are not easy battles and they are not quickly won.

Tomorrow, I plan to share this story, which many of you I am sure have heard before, in hopes that they will get the picture:

Once upon a time, there was a wise man who used to go to the ocean to do his writing. He had a habit of walking on the beach before he began his work.

One day, as he was walking along the shore, he looked down the beach and saw a human figure moving like a dancer. He smiled to himself at the thought of someone who would dance to the day, and so, he walked faster to catch up.

As he got closer, he noticed that the figure was that of a young man, and that what he was doing was not dancing at all. The young man was reaching down to the shore, picking up small objects, and throwing them into the ocean.

He came closer still and called out "Good morning! May I ask what it is that you are doing?"

The young man paused, looked up, and replied "Throwing starfish into the ocean."

"I must ask, then, why are you throwing starfish into the ocean?" asked the somewhat startled wise man.

To this, the young man replied, "The sun is up and the tide is going out. If I don't throw them in, they'll die."

Upon hearing this, the wise man commented, "But, young man, do you not realize that there are miles and miles of beach and there are starfish all along every mile? You can't possibly make a difference!"

At this, the young man bent down, picked up yet another starfish, and threw it into the ocean. As it met the water, he said, "It made a difference for that one.

by Loren Eiseley (1907 - 1977)

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