What a kid wants, most of the times, is not what he/she needs. Adolescence is often thought of as a turbulent period – a period of rebellion from authority. Kids and teens have a distorted vision of themselves or of the world. It is not uncommon that they managed to create an insular world in which they can pretend to be utterly detached and uninvolved. They love vampire romance, gothic paraphernalia, and other weird things. Is this really the normal state of affairs? What is going to force them a moment of clarity? What they do need are order and routine, which could affect virtually every aspect of their lives. By order, I don’t mean military discipline. What I do mean is organization, which is best indicated indirectly by saying that order is the result of having purpose. Personality has a lot to do with self-esteem.
During the 50s and 60s, there was consistent discipline between home and school life. Today, home life isn’t structured and the school day isn’t structured. Parents are too permissive with their children. Without structured education settings, the younger generation can’t learn the direct connection between its actions and its abilities. Everything builds on everything else. However, the critical pedagogy told us that we should educate our kids for social justice. Following Rousseau and A. S. Neill the new pedagogical ideal is the progressive education from the beginning. Who knows what deep psychological wounds you might inflict? Kids need freedom. They like to play in classroom and doing games. They don’t need textbooks anymore. As a result, they are learning next to nothing. They are doing less and less homework. They are not prepared to work in groups. At the same time, grades begin to fall, and the kids blame the teacher. Lack of effort is socially valued in school. In fact, kids are being reinforced for the littlest things.
Some years ago, when I was teaching in an urban school, I met kids who wanted to receive praise for every little trivial thing they did. The fact is, we should be praised only when we did something significant. Progressive pedagogues do not make education flexible, they abandon it. They abandon the child to incoherence, to boredom, and to laisser-aller. School should be a real-world experience. Kids are going to face a rude awakening later in life.
Only an organized setting allows young persons to learn and to develop their talents. Indeed, no educator should tolerate impudence. I do not defend the Victorian attitude to children. Certainly, a child needs love, and a lot of it. But the excessive permissiveness of modern parents and of modern school is surely doing more harm than good. The psychologists and pedagogues have much to answer for. I believe tough love is the recipe for success.