Matters relating to the appeal of education and schooling are often misunderstood. We also underestimate the challenges confronting today’s young people. Distractions on offer can and do take focus away from education and school.

Young people growing up today, do so in an increasingly complex world. We are constantly looking assailed with stories confirming the social challenges they face. Facebook, Twitter, Youtube, SMS and other social media contexts engage them in a way that has many addicted for hours on end to ‘small screen’ sending and receiving text and picture messages. It seems few young people are seen without electronic gadgets to hand. Addiction to electronic devices disengages them from the real world.

Historically, school was often looked forward to by many children – indeed for some it was a real highlight. Social and recreational opportunities were not available as they are today. In 2020, invitations to young people that they concentrate on school and educational betterment can be seen as an offer of monotony and boredom.

Schools and staff are often criticised for the fact that schooling is not sufficiently effervescent and bubbling with excitement. The inference is that teachers have to be 100% responsible for motivating students. However the desire for deep learning has to come from within students themselves. While learning needs to be stimulating, there is more to education than tinsel and glitter. Unfortunately, the attractions of these modern times offer diversionary activities that have greater appeal than schooling routines.

Social pressures

Increasingly we read of social pressures placed on young people. Years ago smoking a cigarette behind the school shed or toilet was considered an act of bravado. Drugs as they confront today’s youth were a future issue. So too, the more liberal attitudes existing these days toward alcohol. While tobacco has become taboo, attitudes to an array of drugs and alcohol are liberal by comparison. While use of drugs within school environments is a ‘no, no’, that concern is not apparent within the wider community. I respect awareness programs offered at school. However, it seems that young people in social contexts, are ignoring educational advice and warnings.

Dunlevy’s findings

Sue Dunlevy a national health reporter, highlights the issue. She reported:

* One in three teens aged 12-17 are consuming alcohol even though illegal.

* In many cases parents were purchasing alcohol for their children.

* Principals are concerned about this major social problem ” … that could harm their children’s future and … developing brains.”

* Unsupervised parties lead to teenage drunkenness and drug use.

* The Australian Council on Drugs found this behaviour was often a fallout from cyber bullying.

* The survey found a significant amount of time is spent by teachers in the classroom trying to help students who drank on weekends catch up on their work or in dealing with disruptive behaviour while other students look on and wait.

* Students who drank alcohol and used other drugs came to school late, tired and often with a poor attitude. They were also in danger of developing a pattern of non-attendance.

* Three out of four schools run drug and alcohol education programs, so the effort to create awareness is significant.

(Dunlevy, ‘Drunk and confused: Weekend drinking is hitting the performance of our teenagers in schools’, Australian March 5, 2014)

Where to

There is much on offer educationally for young people. However, if students fail to see the importance of education, preferring to overly indulge in social and recreational pursuits, educational outcomes will suffer. Decisions young people make today have implications that will last a lifetime.

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