The sense of entitlement amongst a portion of the youth of today is absolutely astounding. The usual examples of this include: kids getting angry at the teacher because they failed or got zeros on assignments they didn't do or tests they didn't study for. They get angry if you tell them you're sorry, but you've run out of spare pencils/paper/books. They get angry if you catch them cheating or copying...
What happened to good old fashioned shame, if not responsibility? Perhaps the anger is misdirected at us when they may, in fact, be angry with themselves or their providers at home; but it gets quite draining when we feel the targets of their rude and angry outbursts.
This year has revealed the largest number of instances of copying/cheating in the 9th grade we have seen in the past number of years. One of my students felt the drive to copy so instinctively, I had to completely isolate him from others to stop him from doing it. For a week or so, he sat in my room about an hour a day not knowing what to do, but eventually started doing some of the work himself and grew to be quite proud of his own ability and intellect. He's now back in the general population and... Okay, so he still steals other kids' stuff like a kleptomaniac, but at least he's getting some of his own school work done himself. (I always think in terms of small victories.)
Today, our team leader brought up the concern of copying up with our kids during his history class with them. His tone was even, not in the least bit accusatory to any single individual, and very sincere in our worry that these guys will fail the graduation test because they haven't absorbed the information due to frequent copying and cheating. You would think he told them they had to sacrifice their firstborn! They became furious and insisted that if the other person lets them copy, it's okay. Stunned at their response, he at first tried to explain his reasoning and then simply said "Are you seriously trying to make a case for cheating?" They didn't see it as wrong AT ALL. They ended with an "agree to disagree" tone in their voice to end his lecture.
I'm kinda scared. These kids really believe this is the real world. Okay, I'm sure a bunch of successful people can say they got where they were with a little bit of underhandedness, but these guys probably wouldn't even breathe if the smart kid next to them wasn't doing it first for them to copy. These are the same kind of kids who walk down the middle of the road and then give you a dirty look when you try to drive. Where did this come from? Who taught them their only contribution to this world needs to be their mere existence? What on Earth can we do with kids like that who really don't seem to understand they have to actually DO SOMETHING to deserve rewards?
I get a horrible feeling they're in for an unpleasant surprise when they get into the real world that doesn't give second, third, fourth, or infinite chances, that doesn't let them off with a verbal warning, that doesn't accept late work with little to no consequence, that doesn't tolerate tardiness on a daily basis, that doesn't provide the materials for the job every day because they don't bring their own, that doesn't tolerate racist comments and behavior, and especially when their parents can't get them out of trouble by going over the teachers heads to administrators who are sick of getting bad press in the community.
I wish these kids could face a little more reality... I wish we could give it to them without being dinged for having too many failing grades or hurting too many feelings.
They're the ones who are being cheated here if they think the world is going to be as forgiving as we are.