The economic recession of the past several years has led many to such conclusions. Many have come to the conclusion that life is as good as it will get and situations will only get worse.
This leads to despair, depression and a sense of “why bother.”
Now I want to ask a question about our community. Do we suffer from this mindset? I asked it of myself and I was not so pleased with the answer.
Take a look at the schools. Many children are taught that they are poor students early on in their educational journey. I recall hearing of a third grade teacher in another county telling her students they were stupid.
When a parent protested, she said she was being sarcastic. Really?!
But how many of our teachers believe some of their youngest students cannot learn? They might come to that conclusion because the children are emotionally, socially and cognitively behind their peers. However, budget cuts in early childhood care and education are currently being discussed in our state legislature.
I have read that if the child isn’t reading on fourth grade level when tested, the state of California will plan to budget building another jail cell in the future. Cut early childhood education now, ignore the hope of the future now and build another prison cell tomorrow. Really?! Invest in a life now or a prison later.
Eventually the student who has more challenges than the norm has one more that may be the nail in the coffin. No one in their little life believes that they will succeed. That loss of hope is fatal. Why bother, they conclude.
I will confess that my parents did not believe or care that I would be a good student. But I better behave. The odd paradox was I had teachers who did believe I could be a good student and their belief helped me learn to believe as well. Others can help us unlearn helplessness and hopelessness.
I heard of the shortcomings of the school system here since before I moved and have heard plenty since serving on the Board of Education. Changes within the system and a new vision might help some. But until everyone who complains volunteers it will not change. As it has been said, identifying someone’s or something’s problems is easy. Being a part of the solution is where the difficulty begins. If someone can read, they can help.
What about the union of education and employment? The days of a limited education to have some sense of financial security and to earn a livable income are over. There will be exceptions but the rule is that the more education the better the job. Yet we accept mediocrity. From the federal and state levels passed on to local systems, educational success is measured by standardized test scores, not by knowledge. The end result is we can learn how to make better scores, be better test takers. But since we are graded against the norm, we just need to be better than or equal than mediocre.
Listen to young people talk about success. It might involve higher education but also a change in zip code. The future is in the windshield not the side view mirror. So, if escape is not an option, why bother? That is called learned helplessness or at least local hopelessness.
I have heard of the good old days. For some they probably were but at the expense of someone else. I have heard of the glory days of the 50s, the turbulence of the 60s, the transition of the 70s, the decline of the 80’s and the decay of the 90s, whispers of change from the outside and new roads and opportunities in the new millennium.
I wonder when we will hear of shared responsibility with renewed hope. Or have we learned to be helpless, waiting for the knight in shining armor, the latest grant or the prince riding in on a white stallion to sweep us away to his kingdom in a far off land?
What if we accepted the opportunity to be a part of helping a new generation of Ansonians? What if we all took what we learned in life to help? We are not helpless. We are not hopeless. It will not change overnight. But we must change today.