I recently had a meeting with a training consultant who specialises in youth. It was an enlightening meeting as I am looking at programs for this group at the moment, so basically from senior high school up to those in and around their mid twenties. Talking to this expert was incredibly enlightening because in many ways it confirmed some of my own thoughts or at the least gave me some things to think about.
We were discussing how to train and mentor youth to ensure a positive future for themselves and the barriers we need to address in order to see programs succeed. The first thing that came up was for want of a better term Emotional Intelligence. A lot of young people these days lack an ability to connect with people in the real world. Their parents and/or society has tried to raise them positively with a belief that not only can they achieve anything but they shouldn't care what others think and to just do whatever they want to do. I'm sure this was delivered with the best of intent but unfortunately it has given us a generation that believe they should just think about themselves. You see this because a lot of young people don't understand rules and boundaries and definitely don't understand that their actions affect others. The other thing it has given us is a generation that doesn't understand compromise and negotiation. If they don't get what they want they walk. I guess this is compounded by those that grow up not losing at anything because as a society we now don't have winners and losers or even red pen on tests. Only real life hands you these knocks and some young people learn quickly the reality when they hit the outside world but it doesn't generally remove this sense of entitlement or selfishness that is embedded. However they do need to learn that just because you were conditioned by your growing up years doesn't make it right or unchangeable.
Another thing we discussed was technology. This expert was telling me how when she would walk into a room to train she would ask people to switch off their phones. She told me that the look of terror on the class faces was incredible. As we agreed technology is a wonderful thing and has helped and continues to help and develop us. The danger with this is not knowing when to turn them off. I am running iOS6 and the best feature I use is the Do Not Disturb feature. At a certain point in the night I just switch on DND and I don't receive any alerts from apps or calls etc, with a few exceptions for emergencies. I explained that this gives me time to spend with my partner uninterrupted. I really do like this feature. I know then that in the morning all my alerts etc will be there to deal with. It seems that many people now have lost the ability to just interact and rely on technology to entertain them. So it's necessary to teach people again how life is good without technology and that time even in a quiet space is a good thing. With the development of technology it is at a point where it controls us and not the other way around and we need to learn the balance.
There was a lot more to our discussion and it made me acutely aware that if we are going to teach our youth it is necessary to start from scratch and show them how important values are. It is necessary to teach and mentor the youth in positive human interaction and that in the end if we don't consider others and build respect we won't get far. It is a changing world and we need to adjust to new and innovative ways to live. However if we lose the ability to interact, compromise and value others it will end up a very lonely planet.