Sunday, March 10, 2013

Failing Our Youth

We are stepping aside from our normal programming of martial arts as of late to bring you this...

There is a dangerous trend emerging regarding how we protect our young people from disappointment and failure.

It’s evident within the academic system. Schools have begun to "place" students in grade levels even though they never passed its prerequisite. This is an effort to limit their exposure to failure.

The number of problems with this is too many for a short conversation.

We need to prepare our children for the real world. Reality doesn't consider how you might feel before it beats you down with its harshness.

By restricting the degree of failure all we are doing is failing to prepare our children for real life.

In sports there is a trend towards not keeping score, with a no winners or losers mentality. All this will succeed in doing is suppressing the natural desire to excel or be good at something. Competitive nature is the backbone of progress. The want drives the doing. The majority of technical and mechanical improvements have come to fruition due to the unyielding persistence of people always believing they can do better.

This would not be possible in a society where mediocrity is rewarded undeservedly. If society was complacent with how things were, we would still be walking everywhere. We would not have begun riding horses, and most certainly would not have invented the automobile.

This trend is pushing us to a "perfect" or Utopian society. This is a slippery and dangerous slope. If you have read "OurViolent Nature", you will understand why forcing people to go against our nature can become a problem. Hollywood has provided examples of failed attempts to pacify society. It always ends badly. As an experiment, make an effort to not show aggression, disappointment, drive, frustration, anger, or excitement for one week to one month. Take note of how long you actually last.

We all know that it is unhealthy to suppress your emotions, especially anger. This leads to explosive and unpredictable outbursts that are often uncontrollable. The Utopian societies we are shown in movies all resolve the emotional problem with behavioral modification. One form used is pharmaceutical. Sound familiar? Antidepressants are used daily in our society. There are other ways, better ways, to treat mental conditions that don't rely on drugs.

What I am getting at is we need to stop turning our children into emotional time bombs. They need to fail in school to learn that if you don't dedicate yourself to passing, you will not pass. Failure teaches you more than being placed into a grade you didn't earn. School is supposed to teach the value of hard work and preparation. School is also supposed to prepare kids for life in the real world.

We wonder why our children act so spoiled and deserving. We wonder why they believe everything in life will be handed to them. Well, it is OUR fault. We accepted their lack of motivation. We allowed the school to place them in a grade that they didn't earn.  We are passing up an opportunity to teach our children that to try and fail isn't the end of the world. We can teach them to try harder, prepare more, get emotional, and pass that class on your own. Failure teaches much more than success.

The most successful people in the world are experts on failing. Sport gives yet another lesson in determination and hard work. We teach that it’s ok to lose as long as you try your hardest to win.

Losing teaches us that it’s much better to win; teaches us to prepare harder, and strive for more. Losing gives us the opportunity to teach our children that sometimes you win, sometimes you lose, but you never quit. Sports teach us to get back up when knocked down.

In short, expect more from your children than society and your academic system. Raise them to succeed and stand on their own. This will ensure they are well adjusted and able to appropriately deal with life's disappointments. This will ensure that future generations will reduce the amount of suicides and mass shootings. We are creating monsters by not challenging their emotions and intellect.

I'm sure the powers that be would love a society that would drag their emotionless bodies into a monotonous job each day; employees that were happy with the bare minimum and would never strive for more for fear of rejection. In essence drones or worker bees. Put your children in activities that they can succeed at with hard work; activities that capitalize and challenge their natural abilities. This could be art, soccer, football, MMA, or kungfu. The list is literally endless.

It’s up to you to help your children find what they excel at and provide them with the opportunity to do so.

Siu Lum Canada is Winnipeg's Shaolin school. We teach the Siu Lum style of kung fu. Our training revolves around real life situations and real life solutions. There is no question that we will not answer.

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