Opinion

The spoon-fed generation

Erna Mahyuni

Native Sabahan Erna is (not) Malay but loves Malay literature. Her hobbies: cats/gaming/blogging at ernamerin.com/Tweeting at @ernamh.

NOV 21 ― Dear parents: Please stop making it easier for your kids.

I mean it. Not that I’m advocating spanking and depriving them of dinner, but your spoiled children are aggravating.

Ask any local university lecturer about the “pampered generation” and expect a lot of sighs and eye-rolling.

It is common for students now to ask their lecturers for the following on the first day of class:

1. Notes. (Why take notes when you can make your lecturers prepare them for you in advance?)

2. Copies of presentation slides. (You can now ignore your lecturers in class and look at the slides in your hand instead.)

3. Mock exam questions or help with “spotting” questions that will come out.

Ideally, students should come prepared to lectures. Read the assigned material and have questions ready to ask the lecturer either during or after class.

Instead, most of them come to class expecting lectures to be like secondary school all over again.

One of my favourite lecturers translated the course textbook into Bahasa Malaysia and passed off his translation as “notes.” He knew too well that most of his charges could not read English well enough and most did not even bother reading the textbook. I’d actually read the book and, so, laughed when I saw the so-called “notes” being passed around. Clever, but unfortunately necessary.

My own experience teaching tertiary level students was depressing. Not only did they not read the assigned module, they could not even answer the questions without handholding.

Why are our kids so crippled when they enter university? Part of it is because of the 12 years of swallowing and regurgitating facts in school. Part of it is coddling by parents who go out of their way to lavish praise and gifts on their children.

From what I hear, there are local Malaysian parents who buy luxury cars for their children as graduation gifts. Son or daughter returns from studying overseas and waiting for them at the airport is a six-figure-retailing Volvo or the like.

Basically, we’re raising kids to believe they “deserve” good things and don’t need to work for them. I think that’s called entitlement?

In a way, we’re living in an entitlement culture. We’ve grown up to believe we deserve certain “rights” for being a certain race. That we deserve to be proud of things that we did not work hard to achieve. You didn’t “achieve” your race or religion or birthplace so the misplaced pride is, to me, a little amusing. It’s like being proud of a dice roll, a card draw, or a lottery win.

And when your spoiled, entitled children abandon you in your old age, do you have anyone else to blame? When in their two-storey, six-bedroom house they have no space for you, it is really because they don’t see that they owe you anything. Whatever they got in life was because they “deserved it.” You taught them self-worth and pride, and yet you “forgot” things like gratitude and humility. 

Ask yourself now: Why are you still feeding your children when it is high time they learn to feed themselves?

* The views expressed here are the personal opinion of the columnist.

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