Teach our children well

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Teach our children well

Adults complain and worry about kids today. They regard them as dishonest, inconsiderate, disrespectful, irresponsible, and bad-tempered. In a report on Korean teenagers by the JoongAng Ilbo with the help of professors from Kyunghee University, middle school students failed to impress the experts with their performances on personality tests.

The characteristics of a group can say a lot about individuals. A social human being must meet basic character and behavioral standards. The personality dimensions of our teenagers raise concerns about the generation that someday will be responsible for our country’s future.

But we cannot entirely blame bad behavior and character among teenagers on the kids alone. We have to ask if adults have been the correct role models. What has the so-called social elite showed our younger generation? They earned their status by stepping on others with their fierce and greedy competitive natures and resorted to corruption and irregularities without a bit of conscience. Is it any wonder how our kids turned out?

The immoral sensibilities and behaviors of the adult generation have permeated to the youth we raised. The collective insensitivity and nonchalance during teenage years is the byproduct of a more general social environment.

Behavioral problems cannot be corrected at schools. One learns decency and manners by watching others in all walks of life. Young people cannot become decent grown-ups if all they hear from adults have to do with their academic performance and the prospects for getting into good colleges. They will only turn cynical if adults have such narrow, greedy values.

The most important character development takes place at family dinner tables. Parents and their children should sit down for lengthy conversations over dinner more than just once a week. Parents must listen to the problems and interests of their children. They must show sympathy and understanding.

Schools should go beyond the uniform rote-memorization and college-oriented education and include various debates, sports and extracurricular activity programs to provide a natural setting for students to learn teamwork, compassion and other social skills.

As the saying goes, “Young people need role models, not critics.” Educational authorities should stop complaining about shortages in their budgets and staff. Teaching young people to grow up to be socially decent adults is the most important goal of education.

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