Tonawanda News


June 18, 2014

CONFER: Overcoming underachievement is possible

Tonawanda News — Editor’s note: This is the final part in a four-part series

Over the past few weeks we’ve looked at the dismal academic results of America, results that are unbefitting of a nation that spends the most on education and enjoys the richest economy. The focus of this series was not on policy, but rather on the students and how this generation has lost the hunger for personal betterment that previous generations possessed.

It should be noted, though, that not all of today’s teens are underachievers. There are some exceptional performers – as matter of fact, many of them – who buck the trend and really set themselves apart from their peers.

I’ve been working with children and teens as a volunteer over the past 19 years; I’ve led boy scouts, talked to elementary and high school students, and spoken to college students. In that time, I’ve witnessed (or have been privy to) a decline in appropriate character and ethic, but, at the same time, I’ve seen the best and brightest become better and brighter.

I would go so far as to say that the exemplary youth of today rival those of my generation. The highly-driven youth of 2012 have a greater diversity of thought, participate in more productive activities, are highly intellectual and set themselves up for even greater achievement in adulthood. Whereas the typical teen has become less functional, the outliers have become more functional – they truly are young adults.

While a majority of their peers might raise concern for what America’s future holds, the strength of the superior students is astounding. They possess the fortitude and leadership that could, when they come of age, help change some of the underachievement relished by their generation. With these intelligent kids becoming the captains of industry and the makers of public policy, America will be in some good hands in the decades to come.

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