Another unexpected COVID side effect…
How teens are experiencing their version of the ‘Great Resignation’

It is an interesting article. I think it is worth the time to read.


It is an interesting article. I think it is worth the time to read.

I concur.

“With everything happening outside of school, how could I focus on school?” asked Dao. “I learned that, yeah, school is not that serious. So why should I focus on it when I can focus on other things that matter more to me?”

That’s not to say Dao stopped attending school, or even that she stopped working hard in her classes. But she de-centered school and grades from her priorities focusing instead on her family, her friends, her mental health and her dedication to helping others outside of school.

This self-first approach to high school was novel for many of these high school students. Instead of forcing themselves into being or becoming straight-A students, they began thinking about how school could best serve them. They decided to make time for themselves and prioritize what they care about. Many decided to safeguard their mental health.

I can relate quite well to today’s students making this discovery. I approached school this way decades ago. I wasn’t there to get straight A’s. I was there to learn, and learn about things that interested me. It made me a bit of an oddball in some ways, at least compared to my peers.

To me, it sounds like these students are well on their way to becoming well-rounded people instead of people who excel at school. I look forward to what they will accomplish by doing things that interest them instead of only doing the things that get them good grades. As a person at the tail end of the baby boom, I can see all the things my generation screwed up. This generation coming into adulthood now will have to fix a lot of my generation’s messes. Sounds like some are well on their way to doing that.


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Teen pregnancy rate (births per thousand females):
2018: 17.4
2019: 16.7
2020: 15.4
2021: 14.4

However, this was not unexpected (at least, not to me).

Historical note: in 1991 it was 61.8

(Data is from various websites, since no one website provided it for multiple years in a sensible manner - many had only one year with no easy way to switch years, most had nothing for 2020 and only a couple had anything for 2021.)


To me, it sounds like these students are well on their way to becoming well-rounded people instead of people who excel at school.

This would fit well with my own view, based on multiple observations (but far from qualifying as a scientific study), that kids who grow up working in family businesses or on family farms come out, on the average, better-adjusted, more respectful, and more secure in themselves than those who don’t.

(Note the “on the average” - we’re talking about humans, so of course there are exceptions.)

And the doorman at an oriental restaurant in southern Montana, who couldn’t actually open the door for us because he was about 2.5 years old at the time (but oh did he try), was simply adorable.

Working family business checks my box, but so do all manner of “out of the box” behaviors that are disappearing. In both friendship and employment I always got along well with expert anglers, hunters, mountaineers, and self reliant (mostly part time waiters and sales) hard driven strict living artists of all sorts (the non-self-reliant and non-strict living types are zillions of times more numerous and to be avoided).

david fb

I do extremely well with people in person. But narrow down who I spend time with for my own sake. People like a certain level of being challenged in person. People like a wise ar$$. I am not saying it is for everyone. But when I am not a massive challenge to some people those folks find out I want their friendship. It becomes a mix of peace and caring v getting things done. It is not one size fits all.

One thing it is a low tolerance for make believe.

These teens have been given an accidental glimpse at a view of reality vastly different than their parents, teachers or guidance counselors have touted. The resulting cognitive dissonance it is producing seems perfectly understandable in today’s world as it currently operates.

On one hand, these parents, teachers and counselors have been beating the idea into these kids’ heads that life in general – and life in America in particular – is a predictable meritocracy where good grades and behavior in primary school get you into the best prep schools which help you get into the best colleges which get you onto the best (“best” defined how? highest paying? most rewarding? easiest to find a steady job?) career tracks. The implied counter-narrative is that if you don’t dig in to an eight year grind from high school through college, you will have no chance at the brass ring and will be stuck in steerage with the huddled, unwashed common folk for the rest of your life.

On the other hand, American culture – through media like 80s style Lifestyles of the Rich and Famous to 2000s era paid ads for mastering home flipping to current social media “influencer” culture – seems to look down upon people who do real work for a living. The not-so-subliminal message of much of this seems to be if you actually “work” for a living, you’re a sucker. For some alternate perspective, watch a few car repair videos on YouTube and take in the problem solving skills exhibited by today’s average mechanic and compare that to the typical Fortune 500 job.

The fixation of high schoolers on college prep and success reflects the schizophrenia produced when students realize how much of “success” in life is chance – both on the plus side and the negative side. In reality, getting good high school grades, going to a top 50 college instead of Whatsamatta U or Podunk State might very well give you a leg up into a $80,000 starting job instead of a $61,000 starting job which can accumulate rapidly in the first decade of a career. The same path might also win scholarships which might be the difference between escaping college with only say $40,000 in debt versus $120,000. But all of those economic advantages could be wiped out by one bad choice in marriage partner and be eliminated in one divorce settlement, something having NOTHING to do with your academic background. Those same economic advantages could be neutralized by one bout with an expensive illness.

High schoolers and certainly recent college graduates are old enough to have experienced the economic collapse from the 2008 financial frauds and were old enough at the time to internalize the stress they likely saw in their parents, even if their family was not directly affected and even if they didn’t understand the underlying causes at the time. This generation is thus pre-disposed to realizing there seems to be much higher levels of chance affecting outcomes and that most of those chances push in a downward direction.

Young adults can see plenty of other patterns to justify their new-found cynicism in the myths taught to them by adults. The same adults who added more chaos to COVID survival through bickering with school boards and city / county / state government officials. The same adults who have yet to do anything to meaningfully combat random but repeated mass shootings in schools, theatres, concerts, clubs and Independence Day parades despite kids being targeted for TWENTY THREE YEARS since Columbine.

Teens who have listened to adults selling them the myth of a sure path to predictable success would be foolish to continue buying into that fantasy hook, line and sinker without a serious re-evaluation of reality and priorities. As another form of reality check, in my 32+ year career, here’s how many times academic trivia came up in ongoing work conversations:

  • grade point average – NEVER
  • graduation honors – NEVER
  • coursework in my major – NEVER
  • highest degree – NEVER

Oh, I see you took EE classes in digital communication theory so you understand about multiplexing and required Nyquist sampling rates for signals needing to carry X amount of information without loss… cool. NEVER HAPPENED.

Ah, I see you had an MBA class in manufacturing process design, so you can probably evaluate whether we are impairing productivity by changing project priorities too often on our development team. Maybe you could help identify the maximum number of new projects we should be allowing into the backlog… Excellent. NEVER HAPPENED.

We’re having an issue getting Marketing, Product Development and Engineering aligned for this new product initiative. You’ve had classes in organization design and behavior, can you help us review our goal-setting process across the teams to eliminate the conflicting priorities that are delaying this project? YEA, RIGHT.

This isn’t a dressed up version of turn on, tune in and drop out. But like many other facets of life, the relationship between academics, hard work, elite institutions and success / happiness has been distorted by sixty plus years of marketing on the part of those elite institutions for their own self-perpetuation. These institutions have attempted to brand an education like a Snickers bar or Godiva chocolate and have completely forgotten their true mission in the process. Upcoming generations need to recognize that and make decisions based on reality, not marketing myths.



…these parents, teachers and counselors have been beating the idea into these kids’ heads that life in general – and life in America in particular – is a predictable meritocracy…

LOL. Not this parent, who constantly asked “What’s your contingency plan if your plan doesn’t work out?”

Youngest, who graduated during Covid and had a hard time finding a professional job, took a hard labor job with health insurance and moved into the basement apartment of our home. After a few weeks he turned to me and said something along the lines of “I used to think you were crazy with all your contingency plans, but I got to say I really appreciate this one.” I confessed I had not seen Covid coming, but in life, sh!t happens, so be prepared for anything.

There is nothing quite like your kids hitting their mid 20’s and realizing that the parent they thought was an idiot was really smart after all.

happy to say he has found his professional job and moved on, though it took a year of hard persistent work on his part

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There is nothing quite like your kids hitting their mid 20’s and realizing that the parent they thought was an idiot was really smart after all.

“When I was a boy of fourteen, my father was so ignorant I could hardly stand to have the old man around. But when I got to be twenty-one, I was astonished at how much he had learned in seven years.”
~~Mark Twain.