Being a parent is one long sociology experiment. I’d say that is particularly true if you have middle or high school kids in your house. In some cultures, there is a high degree of competitiveness, and a desire and drive to be the best students, and achieve the most in school.
That does not seem to be the case in the USA, at this point. Instead, there seem to be forces in our middle schools and high schools which actively seek out and try to destroy high achieving kids. They are discouraged from being proud of having good grades, and working hard. Woe be unto you if you happen to let anyone know about things that you’re active in- like say, Girl Scouts, Boy Scouts, sports, or anything else. You might be made fun of, and even bullied mercilessly for daring to work hard, and trying to make a difference in the world. Other kids will try relentlessly to pull you back down and prevent you from succeeding. The stories that have come home from school just break my heart.
This keeps up all the way through middle school, and at least partially through high school. Once you hit college, that dynamic changes. What is it about our culture that tends to want to pull people down, and prevent them from being their best? I think that if we can start to overcome that mindset, we will start to see kids in more challenging majors, and generate more of the highly technical students that we need to see for stem careers.
As it stands now, only the kids who are the most determined, and who manage to camouflage themselves the best evade detection, and make it into school to study STEM careers. We need to open up people’s minds, and change the way that our schools work in this country so we can encourage more of our youth to follow these highly lucrative and challenging careers. Encourage kids to graduate and do well, so that they can support their families.
What is it about American culture that we need to overcome? I’m not entirely sure, but my kids are certainly neck deep in the sociology experiment, and are very much pressured by their classmates to be average in every way, and not stick out. They’re encouraged to be mediocre, and bad in school, and never, ever speak up in class.
I know that I am working to encourage the next generation’s leaders by leading Girl Scout Troops, and helping girls get through various Leadership Awards and Leadership projects, including Gold and Silver Awards. But no one person can change the culture of mediocrity by themselves. How do we change our culture to value academic and leadership achievement in our children? I don’t have an answer, but maybe this will start the dialogue.