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How do we get our youth to admire Hawking, Gates, and Jobs instead of Lebron, Tom Brady and Justin Beiber?

This is an issue that's bothered me for years. Growing up I admired, looked up to, and aspired to be like people like Hawking, Gates, and Steve Jobs. These people were in the news, people talked about what they were doing, how they were changing the way our world would function forever. Now we have the media talking about Lebron James leaving Cleveland, Miley Cyrus wearing a skirt, or Charlie Sheen breaking down. I feel the way our youth is currently growing up we're going to start taking evolutionary steps backwards. The kids that could have grown up to be our next great thinkers or innovators are instead trying to be our next great athletes and actresses. I feel something definitely needs to change for our society to move in the right direction, get our youth on track to believe that designing the next computer or LHC or electric car is better than being in a movie or winning the stanley cup. I believe this will involve our teachers, media, and parents helping set our next generation up to succeed and look up to the right people. Our kids need better role models, and it's this generation's job to help set this in the right direction.

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    Mar 12 2011: I am very interested in this issue. Being 20 years old, i see the younger generation completely oblivious to what real achievement looks like. We have grown so accustomed to technology and advancement that we don't take the time to look further and find out more about the process of innovation, from the ideas to the manufacturing of the products we use every day. Instead, we are glued to our televisions and are ready to believe anything we are told.
    Although I have met some young children who are interested in science and culture, there are not nearly enough, and they are constantly discouraged by their peers.
    Parents: Lets ignite a hunger for knowledge in children. Encourage them to question what they see and hear. Teach them to respect their elders, and to read a book every couple of months.
    Teachers: Let the children express their creativity. Foment music and artistic expression. Keep their eyes focused on the importance of the future, while gaining the knowledge for now.
    I will do my part, change starts with a small group of people who believe in what they fight for and are motivated enough to never give up until they see results. This is the right place to start.
  • Mar 21 2011: I'm a senior in high school and I'm just frustrated by the apathy and disdain for knowledge in general. I've never seen such a society that could stigmatize vocational type work *and* hold intellectual work in such contempt. Though from my understanding, Tocqueville even saw hints of the latter. I've actually had a friend of mine (and very intelligent to boot) actually ask the class: "Who here actually cares about learning?"

    On top of that, I've got to deal with an educational system that just doesn't promote higher-level thinking.Too many times do I have to read books on my own time to find anything interesting to the point that calling it "recreational reading" is almost a fraud. More like autodidacticism.

    People don't need to be gung-ho on Shakespeare or all about Homer though. Aristotle mentions that there's a difference between admiration and idolatry (Where the former amounts to a role model proper, and the latter the kind of sensationalist personas in the media). Some people in the media are great (Marilyn Monroe, for example). Sadly, today's media presence has almost nothing that can be admired, only mimicked.

    However, on one point I will disagree when it comes to getting young people to read and be involved in culture etc. The argument is to get them reading and worry about content later. It's sort of a gateway drug argument in that regard. The problem is is that it creates whole markets aimed specifically that these people (things like captain underpants and the gross-out novels about adolescence). Because of things like these, young people are seen as unteachable (especially boys) because they're just not interested in that "dry" sort of stuff.

    It's ironic, because the Greeks taught boys exclusively to be pillars of their civilization. Today, they're sedated, "unteachable", and more interested in farts and boogers than culture. I think that whole representation of the child has to be done away with until progress can be made.
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    Mar 12 2011: "The children now love luxury; they have bad manners, contempt for
    authority; they show disrespect for elders and love chatter in place
    of exercise. Children are now tyrants, not the servants of their
    households. They no longer rise when elders enter the room. They
    contradict their parents, chatter before company, gobble up dainties
    at the table, cross their legs, and tyrannize their teachers.

    Attributed to SOCRATES by Plato

    It's not an' either or' I really think it should be an 'as well' Why not scream at Bieber and revel in Shakespeare? That's what I want for my soon to be 15 year old daughter.
    • Mar 13 2011: Great example! I agree that as long as we expose kids to science, critical thinking, literature then they will decide for themselves how much attention they will pay to Justin Beiber.

      Thou I am a bit unhappy seeing 6 years old kids already having interested in Justin but perhaps the young generation maturity is way ahead of ours =)
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    Mar 19 2011: Like some others have said parents are fighting something much larger than themselves. A multimedia Goliath. However, all of us as parents, or parents to be, are already armed with a loaded slingshot. Just unplug it. Make use of parental controls. And although many of us follow this advise, one more step has to be taken. Children must be pummeled with books (e-books are O.K. too) and be exposed to websites like TED. Their minds will naturally want to fill idle time with something. It is why just before this media sensation man was able to come so far. But now idle time is filled with mundane nonsense that is addictive and begins to infect even the time that should not be idle but spent doing home work.

    No its not easy, raising children was never meant to be, but as parents we all have (or in my case will put) a life on to this planet. We have the responsibility to put our fatigue, our wants and our pleasures far behind our children. If we do not, we will most certainly see a new kind of dark ages.

    ::EDIT::
    As parents we can also demand from our schools, another virus in some ways, to cut athletics programs. We all need some form of physical activity, yes. But so many schools at all levels put such an emphasis on football, basketball and other sports. When cuts are made to the budget, the already under funded fine arts programs and science labs are the first to be looked at. But sports programs seem to always get more money pumped into them. Why is that? Because the majority of good, outward looking parents let the minority of selfish, "My kid is better than yours" parents to hold society back as they demand more funding for mindless, contributionless, sports. We have entered long ago the age of minds, the U.S. is falling behind exponentially faster and it is frightening to me that I will have to move away to have a place where I can raise my children to be forward thinking adults, instead of aspiring to be forward line men.
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      Mar 19 2011: Congratulations on embarking on one of life's greatest adventures, Giovanni.My five are all grown up but I have to tell you that pulling that plug may be the right thing to do but my kids still tend to resent it. they feel that they were short changed on experiences like 'R' rated movies that their friends routinely got to see. My point is that it is not just in the moment that you have to be prepared to bear the brunt- it may be later as well.
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    Mar 16 2011: I think it is simply a matter of finding great ways to expose them to such literature and then letting them take it from there. Knowing it exists is three quarters of any battle. The last quarter is having the grace to let them reject it as well.
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    Mar 16 2011: I cringe when my 16-year-old daughter prefers to watch Kim Kardasian or Jersey Shore in lieu of homework--shows that offer little more than whiney, sexually exploited youth in useless chatter. Yes, it up to the parents to intervene, but parents are competing with something larger than themselves here: media tyranny. What did I watch as a youth? Soupy Sales! Yet, my generation was protesting war, struggling for equal rights. There are many issues for youth to be concerned about: "class warfare," energy safety and shortages, natural disasters--need I go on? Wisconsin showed students supporting their teachers. Perhaps youth CAN pull themselves away from mundane complacency.