These thoughts, which I first heard from a relative of mine, sprang to my mind a couple of days ago.
This idea came back to me when I ended one of the subjects of my latest semester. In this subject, there’s a teacher that, in order to avoid having too many theoretical contents on it, makes the students develop our own learning pace, as well as correcting the exercises between us using some shared collaborative software (groupware). Finally, the teacher gives us a feedback about the exercise, items to improve on, etc.
Despite these good intentions, the reality has been quite different: a couple of delays happened in our course plannings, adjusting them to a slower pace than the one that was initially envisioned, and the students’ participation has been quite… low. This caused a predictable situation: some people “disconnected” quite early because of the rhythm imposed by other classmates that felt like quite slow.
This obviously made our teacher a bit angry. But, I wonder:
As the students, which are the extents of our responsibility acting as lazy people?
Someone could simply answer:
As the students, you have full responsibility of your behaviour.
But, here it comes the question that haunts me:
Doesn’t have our environment anything to do with this?
Someone that is reading this post will probably wonder which is my point now. My aim is summarized in the title: ‘Grandparents, parents and children’. I want to convey that, at least in Spain (and I could assert that even in Mexico), I have seen some kind of pattern linking last generations, and I divide them into 3 strata:
- Grandpas: Here I include people that lived warfare, famine, tough times, … that somehow managed to ‘thrive from the ashes’. They did their best to make a living, as well as to grow their children; maybe not academically, but in a humane way, based on their experience and their effort.
- Parents: In this generation I include grandpas’ children. These people, having lived the challenges their parents overcame to obtain the resources they required, somehow felt the “obligation” of corresponding their efforts. This made some ‘parents’ show some ambition to do the best they could, trying to shine over the rest. This ‘self-improvement’ has led, as well as other factors, to live a bigger development at this period rather than the one of the grandpas.
- Children: Here I include people (as well as myself) that have had the opportunity to live in an opulence period, where we hardly imagine the ‘necessity’ feeling our past generations had during their lives. In addition, we see that technology develops faster and faster, which makes us live better and removes us some tedious things to do on our daily life. Who knows when will the technological singularity reach.
But I also feel that the latter isn’t really true because of the economic crisis lived in Spain, which made lots of people struggle to make ends meet. However, our childhood has been a comfortable period, thus making us more accommodating to our current situation and (partially) losing our will to do new things.
So, considering these ideas and returning to my original point, I realise that there’s a big collision between mindsets that don’t seem to be apparently compatible. On the one hand, the teacher defends an ‘attitude for the effort’, whilst we answer with a ‘careless attitude’, because we find useless to do so much effort for something that won’t be rewarding us in the short term.
Because of that, should we say that our generation is doomed to fail? That’s a bit too much to state, because our premise is that:
A person won’t be doing N times the same thing, unless this action grants us some kind of pleasure/favour or is strictly needed for our lives.
Then, what can we do?
I think we need some transition years; years to understand that this situation isn’t happening randomly, but fostered by the environment. However, generalising that every single person in the ‘children’ generation shows that careless attitude is quite presumptuous. As a matter of fact, knowing that:
- Development is taking place really fast,
- Education is getting more structured than the previous educational systems,
- Much more information is now available (pretty confusedly though),
I believe that more people will be free to study and develop the areas they are the most passionate on.
But, in a nutshell, I do think that, as a society, we should tend to make the culture of ‘compulsory work’ dissapear with some economic policies, such as the not-so-successful Universal Basic Income, and transform that culture into a ‘vocational or voluntary work’. I guess that many people will keep working, but if that work exists because of the ‘self-realization’ rather than the mere economic profit, I think that our society will greatly benefit from it.
[Originally written at June 4th, 2016]