Monday, June 1, 2015

I Need a Pencil: Pencil Entitlement

“What separates privilege from entitlement is gratitude.” ― Brené Brown

In my twelve years of teaching, I've never been asked for a pencil.  Now, that doesn't mean that every student has always come prepared for class, nor that these entitled children haven't tried, in their privileged way, to obtain one from me.  Remember when you would ask your teacher "Can I go to the bathroom?" and the reply would always be "May I go to the bathroom."  Not once have I had occasion to use that most famous teacher line.  That's because kids today no longer ask for things, they demand it.  Rather than ask "Can I have a pencil?", they, without fail, state "I need a pencil", to which I respond, "Yes, everyone needs a pencil." or, "I know, everyday!" or sometimes, "I need a million dollars and a maid."  I simply respond to a statement of fact, not a request.  What's interesting is that in their mind, they think that they did ask for it; I've overheard more than one student complaining that "She won't give me a pencil when I ask for one."

It comes down to entitlement.  Children have been put on par with adults, but their lack of understanding about the adult world leads them to think that things are a given.  For instance, at a communion service that I attended, the priest's sermon dealt with love, and ways that parents show love.  He asked the children how their parents show their love, and each one could only come up with "by buying us toys."  Putting up with an idiot boss, getting up at the crack of dawn, getting jostled on the train or aggravated in traffic, all to put a roof over their heads, food on the table, heat, electricity to charge that cell phone, transportation, those nameplate gold hoop earrings or designer sneakers - to say nothing about not throwing them out the window - in children's minds, none of that is love.  What's interesting is that the entitled child used to be a pampered, overindulged rich brat, like Veruca Salt, but today, it is the well-to-do, the solidly middle class, as well as the poor and needy  Why?

It is learned.  It is taught when a child witnesses a parent bullying a teacher to get what they want.  Your child is watching when you display misplaced outrage at rules that you feel shouldn't apply in your case.  When you shout obscenities at a driver that shares the road but doesn't share your same driving goals, you're showing how to act like society's anoited.  A parent that tells a teacher "You will move my son!", (and, not surprisingly, later tells an administrator how she asked for her son to be moved), is demonstrating how to be an entitled, ungrateful adult.  Short term win?  Sure.  Long term gain, no.  You're modeling vulgar, crass behavior.  Not epic.



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