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Not Paying Attention to Details is an Epidemic Amongst Young People!

Older people with gray hair may not remember what happened yesterday, but we know what happened 40 years ago!

I can tell you exactly what happened on many occasions 40 years ago or more. I may not remember your name if I met you yesterday. It's called getting old with gray hair.

What's troubling to me after working with teenagers all fall as a soils coach and helping operate FFA and 4-H judging contests is that many of today's teens won't even remember what they did 40 years ago when they are our age. That's because they were never aware of it in the first place!

There seems to be an epidemic of looking like you're paying attention, but not getting the point. In one ear and out the other no longer describes it – it seems like it never gets in. You can tell otherwise intelligent looking kids the same thing 10 times, and yet within the next five minutes they may ask you the very same question about what you just told them.

I'm not the only one noticing it, and I don't think I'm the only one a bit concerned about what it means for the future. At one recent soils judging contest, kids from almost every school there forgot to answer one or more questions before turning in their scorecards. Whatever happened to checking your work for wanting to do your best?

The second question is easier to answer – too many want to be rewarded for something without putting in the time and effort to study and prepare like you and your father and mother did. They want to win as long as it doesn't involve too much effort, or take them away from their cell phones too long.

That leads to a theory for the first question's answer. They're lucky to do the work in the first place. If they're not listening to music with an ear bud in at least one ear, they're engrossed in some game on their cell phone. It seems some don't go very many minutes in a day without some form of electronic entertainment or social media bombarding them.

It's almost as if someone talking to them face to face doesn't mean anything anymore. When people break relationships and do all sorts of things by texting or Facebook, you have to wonder if we've lost the art of personal communications.

I wish I had an answer to close this story, but I don't. I'm too far removed from the generation that is growing up with social media to understand how to restore respect, understanding and attention to the written or spoken word. Let's hope kids are really absorbing more in class than I suspect they are.

After all, some schools have gone to almost all on-line teaching. Is that a good thing?

We'll debate that another day.

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