reb•e•lu•tion (reb’el lu shen) n. a teenage rebellion against the low expectations of an ungodly culture.

8/10/2005

TWIF (Part 3): The Crisis Facing America's Youth

This post is responding to the wonderful feedback I received on the last post. If you haven't yet read the comments made by Taryn Clark and Cody Herche [Cody contributes to the Legal Redux weblog which exists to discuss changes in society, current legal issues and decisions, to help you form opinions about societal and current issues and become more knowledgeable about these important events.] I would highly recommend you read those comments here, before continuing.

So far we have identified three contributors to America's quiet crisis; the first is our "New American Dream" of money and fame by attaining celebrity status (pop star, sports star, etc.), the second is the Entitlement Complex Taryn outlined, and the last is our successful and affluent culture that allows American young people to do well doing poorly.

For example, in the TIMSS study I cited (wherein the United States place dead last out of sixteen countries) 78% of American students believed they were "very good" at math, vs. 28% of South Korean students (who placed 2nd I believe). We're beating the world in self-esteem!

However, we cannot expect to do well without exertion. American youth are leaving the "umph" out of "triumph" and are left with a sorry "try." We've got to throw umph-exertion into these preparation years (roughly from 12-24 years-old). If I had to point out one distinction between Chinese teens and American teens it would be to that the Chinese use their preparation years wisely. They have direction and they get moving.

One of the consular officials who oversees the granting of visas at the U.S. embassy in Beijing said, "I do think Americans are oblivious to the huge changes. Every American who comes to visit me [in China] is just blown away . . . Your average kid in the U.S. grows up in a wealthy country with many opportunities, and many of the kids of advantaged educated people have a sense of entitlement. Well, the hard reality for that kid fifteen years from now Wu is going to be his boss and Zhou is going to be the doctor in town. The competition is coming, and many of the kids are going to move into their twenties clueless about these rising forces."

This is why my initial focus for The Rebelution is to wake young people up to what is happening in the world around them. I want us to get motivated, not depressed! I haven't even shared the good news yet! For now, start applying yourself to your studies. Send your friends here to read what I'm saying and keep coming back yourself.

Moving on. Cody Herche is exactly right when he said that the tech industries vs. labor/services imbalance will achieve equilibrium. However, it will be balanced by foreign workers who will do the work from their own countries. We have to understand that the time period where it was necessary to come to America to enjoy the American Dream is all but behind us. Technology allows an Indian tech student to work an American job while still enjoying the Indian curry his mom makes.

The biggest concern I have is that some science and engineering jobs can't be given to foreign workers for security reasons (NASA comes to mind), but may not be adequately filled by American students. That could have serious repercussions.

Lastly, I don't think the pop star mentality will discourage potential employees from pursuing technology careers despite contradictory economic pressures, I think it is. It isn't happening across the board, but it's definitely happening.

Yet we must remember that not all American young people want to be Lindsay Lohan or Ashton Kutcher. Several other aspects of American society are siphoning human resources away from the tech industry. For instance, in the 1970's and early 1980's young people who wanted to be lawyers began swamping those who wanted to be engineers or scientists. Then in the 1990's after the dot-com boom everyone wanted to go to business school and earn MBA's. Hopefully the marketplace will address the shortage of engineers and scientists by changing the incentives.

Of course, at this point I'm not focusing so much on what our politicians need to do as much as what we young people can do for our country and more importantly for our God. I firmly believe that we cannot act effectively in a world we do not understand. Which is why I'm giving a brief overview of what I see happening in the world and tips for what we can do to take advantage of it.

Yet, before I can get to the good news (what we can do to ride the wave) I must finish painting a picture of the wave. You need to know how very big it is and how very fast it's coming.

In Christ, Brett Harris


Continue to Part Four...