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Underestimating the Kids

At the regional FIRST Robotics competition in Minneapolis, the Czech team had some problems. Far from home, they had to improvise to get their robot on the field in time to compete. Fortunately, our team had a big supply of encoders purchased directly from China, well ahead of the long lead-time for parts like this. It was nice to help.

Posting pictures and stories about the event, my facebook feed also contains people convinced that kids from the same generation couldn’t possibly organize a march on Washington. There had to be others, adults who made it happen. The kids just have to be nothing more than tools.

I’ve given up telling people like that what I’ve learned from this generation, so very much like the last one to grow up in a Depression. It seems as plain as sunrise to me. You ask these kids to storm the beaches at Normandy, I’m pretty sure they will take freakin’ Normandy. More to the point, they’re willing to put in the work it takes to create a world where you don’t have to storm the beaches.

James Monroe. 18 years old in 1776, he rose to the rank of Major in the Revolutionary War. Just a kid?

Underestimating the next generation is as old as America itself. Many of our Founding Fathers started out as Founding Teens eager to create a world in their own image. It pretty much has to be this way when the world changes, too. It’s very important to have nothing to lose, no family you have to defend.

So it goes with kids today. You present them with a world that is incredibly well connected and capable of raising money for just about any operation and they start to think about it all. Anything really is possible. That Is only really scary for their parents who are always worried about losing the one thing that they are willing to sacrifice for out of a love that defines every aspect of their life.

And so the focus is always on the kids.

That is all well and good, and as it always will be. What changes from one generation to the next is the belief in what you can do with all that love, all that potential, all of those threats, all of that worry. If you are born in times of plenty, you learn how to manage excess. If you are born in hard times, you learn how to manage want.

We have a generation that is used to making things happen because that’s how it’s done.

Omaha Beach on D-Day

They have far more in common with those now called The Greatest Generation in that sense. No, these kids have not been hardened in battle yet, although some have seen the handiwork of bullets. But they do have the same values all around. Stop screwing around, get up, speak clearly and articulately about how you really feel, and get things done.

I’ve been saying for four years that robotics competitions show you that the next generation is capable of more than we think. I’ve been telling you what I saw up close and personal, that these kids are going to make a much better world. Yes, that focus was on technology, but do you now see what I mean?

And if you don’t see what I mean it’s only because you just don’t get it yet. You will. Trust me.

One thought on “Underestimating the Kids

  1. Great post! It is very encouraging reading. Not because it convinces me that the kids of today are capable of almost anything. I pretty much knew that already. No, I find your post encouraging because it shows clearly that there are actually grown ups out there who believe in those kids. That the coming generation does have not only the love, but also the support, trust and respect of ours (I am currently going on 40).

    As already mentioned, today’s kids can (and probably will) do just about anything and everything. But they do not have to do it alone.

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