Caught One

So my recent obsession with blogs has taken me on quite the adventure. I have found some really interesting posts, some amazing blogs, and some horrible ones. I feel like I have been digging in a sandbox, hoping to find some gem that someone has left behind for me to find. And I found one. I caught this entry last night on my hook. I decided to paste it below so that it is easier to interact with here. Here’s the original link if you want to check it out yourself –

I had a conversation last night that ties nicely into the topic of the week. We are raising a generation of enablers. There is no need to think for yourself; it’s all done for you, and there is no need to take responsibility for your actions. A prime example of this is the “Caution: Coffee is Hot” warnings on take-out coffee cups. While I understand this is a way of covering the company ass, it’s certainly not helping anyone on a grand scale.

If you’re never taught to think things out from A to B, to see the cause and effect of what you do, always have someone there to direct you, what happens when you’re put in a situation where the only one you have to rely on is you? What happens when there isn’t someone to tell you ‘what happens next’?

I’m going to call this the ‘…and then what?’ effect. 20 minutes out of the school day could go a long way to teaching a child how to deal with a ‘…and then what?’ situation. When the kids are lining up for recess, pose a ‘…and then what?’ question. It takes nothing away from the set curriculum, but it definitely adds common sense to a common sense deprived generation. EG: You’ve gotten carried away with your campfire, and now it’s dangerously close to igniting the dry branches of the overhead trees. You only have a small jug of water at hand. And then what?

There is no one there to explain that the small jug of water isn’t going to make a whole lot of difference in putting that fire out before it becomes a big problem. When I posed this question to some non-outdoorsy type adults (who do enjoy the occasional camping trip, though), they said they’d run to get more water. Water puts out fire, right? When I explained that there was no need to get more water, and that all they had to do was throw the dirt under their feet on the fire, they looked perplexed. I could see them trying to work it out from point A to point B in their heads. All it took was for me to say, “Smother it”, and the lightbulb of recognition flicked on. Something so basic to their safety eluded them until they were directed to the answer. This is even a transferable skill for those who never set foot in the woods! Kitchen fires, backyard weeny roasts, BBQ’s—but there’s where the problem lays. Unless they’re specifically guided through it step by step, people are losing the ability to apply concept A to concept B on their own. Concept A = throw baking soda on a grease fire in the kitchen to smother it. Concept B = throw dirt on a camp fire to smother it. Pretty simple once it’s explained. That is has to be explained with step by step instruction is more than a little scary, though.

The only problem I can see with implementing this education is: First you’d have to teach the teachers. That, and because of the ever increasing budget cuts, it’s going to take a lot of volunteers to make this change happen.


Great post, Cliff! I think you are absolutely right. I have been inspired and plan to start this with my students. I was thinking I could assign …and then what journal entries at least once a week. I never thought about using journal for problem solving before. It could be a great experience to read them quickly and discuss the different solutions that the students came up with. Thanks!

One response to “Caught One”

  1. Perhaps the fault is in our so-called modern society, in which kids are no longer turned loose in field and forest to solve their own minor dillemas and to make their own fun. So they grow up without critical thinking skills of their own.

    Our grandfathers and great grandfathers had to make do with what they had and their solutions were often ingenious.

    Today we pick up the phone and call someone.

    I grew up not so long ago with a backyard stump for a spaceship. Today’s kids play with someone else’s idea of a spaceship, shipped in a plastic box from China.