America is always at war, younger generation says
As such, one might be inclined to excuse them for tuning it out, especially when iPhones, FaceBook notifi cations and hundreds of cable stations fight for their attention.
But these teens are far from being detached. Many, in fact, have strong opinions about everything from U.S. involvement in Israel to terrorist organizations.
“It’s important that we know what’s happening over there,” said Nathan Therrien, a senior. “So we know what’s going on and we know what our troops are really doing over there.”
“9-11 happened when I was in the first grade,” she said.
Johnston said her parents talk about world events and they involve her in those talks. Her older brother also has two friends who are stationed overseas in the armed forces.
“I’ve always been part of the discussions,” she said. “I listen to the news and I understand.”
Johnston thinks she’s not typical, that most teens don’t care what’s going on in the Middle East and don’t want to learn.
Ryan Tondreau, a junior, said caring about what’s going on in the world and with our service men and women is especially important on Memorial Day. The national holiday, originally called Decoration Day, is meant to be a day of remembrance for those who have died for their country. Tondreau said he’d like to see the day get back to it’s true intent, and said he thinks most teens don’t respect or even know what veterans are going through.
Students recently had a class discussion about not just what’s going on in Iran, Iraq and Afghanistan, but about how the different conflicts are related, whether the United States should even be there and if any good has come from U.S. military presence in those areas.
“What happens when we pull out of a country?” Herman asked his students. “And how do we learn from past situations like Vietnam and the Civil War and apply them to today?”
Herman’s questions are not meant to get them to regurgitate facts. They need to know the facts, he said, but he is teaching them to think for themselves.
“I really try hard not to influence them in any way,” he said. “They need to make up their own minds ... It’s not my job to force any kind of political agenda.”
But Herman, who has been teaching for 16 years, said it’s harder to get today’s students engaged. He has a theory about that.
“Every year that goes by there are more and more distractions and fun things for them to do with their time,” Herman said.
In the 1990’s many students had three television stations, he said. Now they have video games, YouTube and blogs by people whose rantings get lots of attention, he said.
In short — it’s too much media, he said.
“And people don’t always look at the source or credentials,” Herman said. “Are they hearing opinions or facts? It’s hard for teenagers to sort through.”
Junior Sarah Scarbrough said she was raised to believe in our country and support what they are doing.
“It’s kind of hard to tune it out because it’s going on all around us and things are changing,” Scarbrough said.