When I hear a teacher say this, I know those students 是 in trouble: The person in charge of their well-being, the tone of their classroom, 和 their opportunities to grow has decided they 是 beyond saving.
They never look up from their phones, we say. They have this attitude of entitlement. They have no respect for authority. No respect for themselves.
Over lunch, we share anecdotes. The shocking thing 那 one kid said. The outfit this one showed up in.
…at my other school.
These conclusions don’t come from nowhere. They start when something goes wrong: a missed assignment, a lesson gone bad, a hostile email, an act of aggression. Hurdles appear 那 were never there before. Teaching gets harder, 和 we try to figure out why. We notice things, we start to see patterns, 和 we construct generalizations to help us make sense of it all. The first step toward fixing any 问题 is to diagnose it.
But when we settle for a “kids today” diagnosis, romanticizing the past 和 blaming our teaching 问题s on the collective inferiority of a generation, we only make things worse.
听起来很无害，不是吗？怀旧。我想到那些 乡村时间柠檬水 commercials, with grandpa on the porch reminiscing about his boyhood, the late afternoon sun playing across his face. It’s just looking back on the good times. How could 那 be a bad thing?
It depends entirely on the impact: Nostalgia for the past is toxic when it makes us 感觉 contempt toward the present. And 那 toxicity works itself into our classrooms in some pretty destructive ways.
The 问题 with comparing the current batch of kids to an earlier group is 那 it puts a negative lens in front of our eyes. Through 那 lens, we start to view even ordinary, age-appropriate behavior as bad. We will treat the whole group as if they 是 always up to no good, or all lack motivation, or 是 all narcissistic, entitled little farts.
然后，通过 确认偏差, we start to find more 和 more evidence to support 那 conclusion, which in turn is likely to generate a self-fulfilling prophecy whereby students actually 开始表现得更自恋，标题小屁. If several teachers regularly report these incidents to each other, the lens just grows thicker, thereby assuring 那 few students in this group stand a chance of ever being seen as individuals.
Building strong relationships with students is arguably the most important factor in student 和 teacher success. And when we decide 那 “this group” has some kind of undesirable trait compared with “that group,” we prevent ourselves from really getting to know this group as individuals. It’s kind of a done deal.
在他的书中 You’ve Gotta Connect: Building Relationships 那 Lead to Engaged Students, Productive Classrooms, 和 Higher Achievement, high school teacher 吉姆·斯特特万特（Jim Sturtevant）* warns teachers about the impact nostalgia can have on their ability to connect with students. “When nostalgia takes you away from the students 那 you have been blessed with the power to influence, it is far from harmless. This moment is all we ever have with each student. Nostalgia can absolutely detour efforts to accept a student for 什么 she or he is in this moment.”
If we stamp an entire batch of students with a 问题atic label, we get a pass. It’s not me, it’s them. It’s the parents. It’s society! This country! The world today!
Taking this stance is convenient, because it means we don’t have to try. We don’t have to look at our own practices 和 find the spots 那 need improvement. It means we don’t have to fail. Sadly, it also means 那 什么ever 问题 we’re experiencing will never actually improve. And even if it does, it certainly won’t be due to anything we did.
Here’s the thing: A whole lot of our nostalgia might be true. Kids today might actually be more challenging. Teaching is undoubtedly harder than it used to be. But so 什么? If we stop there, throw up our hands 和 start counting the days to retirement, we lose. And so do our students. We can do better than 那.
克服这种破坏性怀旧的一大关键是练习 非判断性正念, to pay close attention to exactly 什么’s in front of you 和 just take it in without judging it as good or bad; simply notice 和 accept things as they 是.
Does 那 mean letting students do 什么ever they want? Ignoring harmful or destructive behavior? No. Maintain your expectations, deliver appropriate consequences, just work on how you 感觉 about these exchanges. Instead of interpreting a student’s behavior as more evidence of his inferiority or poor character, just deal with the behavior. You’re still doing your job, but with a change in how you look at it, you no longer have 那 harmful added layer of judgment. In 如何练习非判断性正念, counselor Laura Schenck explains, “Releasing judgment does not mean 那 you “approve” of things 那 violate your true values. It means allowing yourself to move into a place of emotional stillness, peace, 和 acceptance of 什么 is.”
Another benefit to practicing mindfulness is 那 it helps you more clearly see the things 那 是 working, to notice the students who 是 behaving, caring for each other, respecting your guidelines, 和 trying their best. On days when my classroom started to 感觉 out of control, I would sometimes stop teaching, sit down, 和 写在笔记本上, often recording the names of students who were behaving, rather than listing the ones I wanted to punish. This helped me shift my focus away from the 问题s 和 give some energy to the things 那 were going right.
有时，我们不是将学生与以前的小组进行比较，而是将他们与自己进行比较。也许你是一个了不起的学生。有很多老师;我们非常热爱学校，因此成为老师。但是同龄人中的很多学生都不像你;因为你小时候，你没有’t know about all the 问题s 那 were being handled while you were out at recess or sitting on the carpet for story time. You didn’不知道所有的家庭作业’不要上交或其他孩子’低测验分数。而且如果您是那种准时上班，从不回头的孩子，如果您的笔迹整洁，衣服完全没有裂口或可疑的口号，那么您将处于对每个学生的难以置信的判断力的完美位置不只是像你以前那样这真是很多孩子的混蛋。
So if 那’s the case, instead of thinking about how you were as a student, try widening 那 lens a bit 和 remember some of the other kids you went to school with. Not everyone was an excellent student. Not everyone behaved. And now 那 you’re the one in charge, they 是 all yours.
The only real cure for a bad case of nostalgia is to focus entirely on the students right in front of you, to set aside 什么ever visions you might have of past students 和 fall in love with 这些人.
And 那 can only happen if you make a real effort to get to know them. Ask questions about their lives 和 record 那 information somewhere (I have a chart 那 can help you 这里）。并了解他们的“东西”。与其评判他们的音乐，不如让他们为您播放自己喜欢的歌曲，并告诉您为什么他们如此喜欢他们。观看他们的一些电影，然后与学生讨论。试玩他们使用的应用程序。让他们给他们上他们使用的所有缩写的一个教训，然后让他们测验你。
Where will you find the time for this? You have content to cover 和 assessments to give. But it doesn’t have to be all 那 time-consuming: We’re just talking about five minutes at the end of class every now 和 then. I promise you, it will be worth it. It might even turn 什么 could have been the worst group you ever had into a collection of real people you actually kind of like. ♥
* 谢谢至 吉姆·斯特特万特（Jim Sturtevant） for introducing me to the concept of nostalgia as a teacher 问题. This idea resonated so much with me when I read his book a few years ago 那 I wanted to devote a whole post to it!