While I'm not a teacher myself, I have somehow ended up on #TeacherTok, and I'm constantly seeing videos from teachers who are concerned about the future of our younger generation.
In one video, which has now been viewed over 5 million times, a seventh-grade teacher admitted that some of his students are still performing at a fourth-grade level. This sparked hundreds of teachers sharing their own similar experiences.
In another viral video, a former teacher said that it's not just the fault of the pandemic, but also the fault of parents who don't think learning extends beyond the classroom and dismiss their children's educational progress or behavior. Other teachers cited problems with their school systems, which make them pass every student even if they're failing.
To understand what the hell is going on with today's youth, I asked parents and teachers from the BuzzFeed Community to share the most common school-related issues their kids are facing today, specifically those that weren't really a thing in previous generations.
From parenting problems, to social media use, to active shooter drills, to the effects of the pandemic, and more, here's what everyone had to say:
1."My wife teaches, and many of the issues we see in schools today have less to do with the kids of this generation, and more to do with the parents. There is an entitlement that a lot of schools have enabled, where parents feel like they can run the school."
2."Having to compensate for the pandemic’s effect on curriculum. My son was finishing kindergarten when lockdown started and going into first grade when our school district was trying to figure out what to do with virtual curriculum. Their decision was basically to send color by number pages home."
"If it hadn’t been for us continuing with at-home tutoring as soon as lockdown started, my son would have been significantly further behind."
3."My mom was a teacher for 30+ years and noticed both kids and parents are worse behaved, more entitled, lazier, etc., especially over the last decade or so. She retired a few years ago, which I’m happy about, but I’ve heard terrible things about Gen Alpha's behavior from many teachers. Parents don't give them enough structure and discipline, and too much screen time which tanks their attention spans. Also, on social media they become influenced by older kids rather than actual adults. They forget they’re kids."
4."The DISRESPECT!!!! I teach preschool and the kids are so mouthy and disrespectful. They curse, spit, kick, accuse, threaten and then 'dare' you to redirect or discipline them. Parents are zero help and basically act like over-sized preschoolers. Kids are parenting their parents and the parents are ok with it. I report their behavior, they receive zero consequences, and it continues day after day, every single year, and it gets worse each year."
5."I’m in my ninth year teaching middle school English. My students’ ability to write well organized, thoughtful paragraphs is almost non-existent. Despite their documents telling them something is spelled incorrectly or needs to be capitalized, they submit assignments with multiple spelling errors. Even small formatting mistakes—ones that I’ve never really seen made before—are making it hard to read their writing. For example, students don’t put spaces after punctuation makes, or they put quotation marks backwards."
6."I am a millennial (born in ‘90), and I simply didn’t know that choosing NOT to do an assignment in school was an option. The amount of kids who simply don’t complete work, then act confused or astounded when I put accurate grades in my grade book—it’s astounding. Of course, admin makes me put in at least 50% so that their grades aren't 'completely ruined' by their lack of produced work. "
"Even the kids who turn in work, they expect an A+ on every assignment. When I grade work for accuracy and mastery of standards, they get very upset if they score a B. I was raised to believe that As and Bs were good grades. These kids think a B is failing. Yet they don’t understand that they are being graded on their ability to demonstrate certain skills—not just submit an assignment."
7."Millennial high school English teacher here, also raising a 2-year-old boy. The biggest thing I've noticed over the years is the widening gap between the 'honors' students and everyone else. There is almost no 'average' ground. Kids are either wildly ahead or they are wildly (and I mean WILDLY) behind where they should be. My non-honors students almost all border on illiterate and all of my students have a worrisome lack of impulse control."
8."Kids in middle school and high school face so much more pressure than when I was in school. A lot of parents expect their kids to attend only the top schools. They have shown their kids that they look down on people that don’t want that. And if you are interested in a top school, the admissions standards are wild."
"We just heard that our local university had an average 3.8 GPA for incoming freshman. I’ve seen schools with 3% acceptance rates. We need to show kids that there are thousands of colleges and universities and they can all be good options and not make them feel like they are only successful if they get into these prestigious schools. Plus, college isn’t the best fit for every kid."
9."I have a kindergartener. I do feel that an issue her generation faces is the lack of choice with being shown online. I have been guilty of just posting pictures of her on my account without even thinking about asking her if it's okay and, while my accounts are now private, I worry about the repercussions of many [parents] 'living' their lives online without [their kids having] any say-so of their own."
10.On a similar note, "TOO MUCH ACCESS, meaning they never know who they’re talking to. I am a part of the A/S/L (age, sex, location) generation and of course I lied in those chat rooms… and it was fucking dangerous. Now? There are a billion ways for someone to hunt you down and on so many outlets. I’m sure you use a similar name on most platforms, right? Email? Have your location on? TOO. MUCH. ACCESS. I’m legit afraid for some of my friends who have tweens."
"A/S/L" (age, sex, location) was an acronym commonly used in early Internet chatrooms.
11."I’m an 'old millennial' with two sons who are three and one. As I imagine them in school, I’m terrified of the impact of social media. I was bullied a lot as a kid, but at least it stopped when I got off the bus. But now with social media, there’s no hiding. I’m worried about my ability to help them navigate the pervasiveness of social media and bullying while also allowing them to interact with their friends."
12."I teach middle school, and most of the disagreements/drama/physical fights during school hours stem from students’ use of social media outside of school hours. It’s a mess."
13."Since COVID, so many of my students (9th and 12th graderers) have NO social skills. They lacked them before, but it's so much worse now. When I give them time to socialize if we're done early for the day, they jump on their phones."
14."Dedicated 'cool aunt' here. One of the problems I see for my niece and nephew is the lack of affordable activities. It's fine in the summer when it's warm enough to swim or go to the playground, but from October to April there is almost nothing. The libraries and community centers that existed when I was growing up are gone, or have significantly cut back.
"Meanwhile, the price of going to an indoor playground or kids museum is higher. The kids are so active and energetic, and it's sad that we've lost spaces for them to learn and create community."
15."Active shooter drills in the US. I certainly didn't have to do any of that."
16."Growing up, I had tornado drills, fire drills. Working at schools now, we just finished code red, code yellow, shelter in place. It's the acknowledgement just being at a school can be dangerous. My son's school has had guns on campus at least twice this year."
17."Possibly an unpopular opinion, but I think too many parents are excusing ADHD, ASD, etc, as a reason for poor behavior and dismissing other causes. Obviously these are real conditions and should absolutely have allowances made, but some parents will automatically say, 'He's got ADHD' to excuse bad behavior when in fact it's because they don't give him security and structure, monitor screen time, teach manners, and encourage kindness and respect at home."
"Challenging behavior and poor school performance certainly can come down to genuine conditions and it's great that there's wider recognition of them nowadays, but we seem to have forgotten that it can also often be simply (and sadly) the result of poor parenting and lack of accountability for it. It's become too easy to make excuses."
18."Kids today don’t understand consequences, and that’s not their fault, it’s ours. My school district panders to every child and puts expectations on all teachers that are not achievable by a human. Kids do and say horrible things to teachers and to each other, and they don’t get suspended or expelled — hell, even punished, at all."
19."Accountability doesn’t matter anymore. I’m a high school teacher and there’s no one making the kids take punishments or reflect on their actions. There are kids who failed first semester because of poor choices and I’m expected to give them assignments and retakes until they pass. Many parents are often MIA, too. They give us phone numbers that are disconnected, emails that don’t exist, or never call us back."
20."It’s the parents — parents have gotten SO much more entitled and demanding of teachers. I have been sworn at, called hideous names, harassed, and expected to step into situations that THEY should be managing (like putting me on the phone to tell their kid to get out of bed in the morning). So many parents are now so worried about their child being upset or challenged in any way that they steamroll them a perfectly flat path… meaning their kids are constantly anxious and generally helpless. I’ve never wanted to quit more."
21."Kids haven't changed. Kids are gonna kid — they'll always do whatever they can get away with. The reason I had to step away from a 10-year teaching career was because of the parents of Gen Alpha. Nothing is ever their child's fault. The expectations they have of their children's teachers are UNREAL. Teachers were never meant to be replacement parents. We are not free babysitters. It's too much responsibility, too much blame, and not nearly enough money and/or respect to make it worthwhile."
"It breaks my heart every day because teaching is (was?) my passion, and I miss my students like crazy, but I just couldn't deal with the burden anymore. Complete lack of support (for teachers OR students) from lazy-ass parents. That is what's killing this generation."
If you're a teacher, parent, or even a student, let me know if you agree or disagree with these observations or if you've had similar experiences.