The epidemic of laziness

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5 Reasons for the epidemic of a generation struggling with laziness

The “epidemic of laziness” is on a tailspin. Years of poor academic outcomes are now a serious threat to the already struggling socio-economic trends in the U.S.

In 2020, Gallup revealed that 54% of Americans read below a sixth-grade level. Recent data in 2023 indicate that the country continues to grapple with consistently low SAT scores and poor college readiness.

The NAEP also shows a continuous decline in educational outcomes while a growing number of adults are poor readers and spellers. People are not getting dumber but lazier.

1. The common framework is not working

In the 1970s, chronic procrastination affected only 5% of adults, but the current rate is 15–20%, with 70-95% of individuals in Eurasia and North America wanting to postpone class work.

The rise in procrastination coincided with the introduction of the Common Core State Standards Initiative (CCSSI) in the early 2000s.

While CCSSI aimed to enhance education by emphasizing critical thinking and college and career readiness, it faced critical issues, including leadership by non-educators, criticism for a “one-size-fits-all” approach, limited teacher autonomy, and a lack of parental input.

Asian classrooms, focusing on discipline and authority, contrast with the U.S.’s student-centered approach emphasizing individuality, which, despite good intentions, may be part of a flawed framework. [Yale News] [Emerson YRBS]

2. High School Students: “School is stressful and boring”

In 2021, 80% of students at an Illinois high school felt stressed, with only 9% consistently meeting mid-semester requirements. This trend persisted nationally, exacerbated by iPads in U.S. high schools.

A 2019 Yale survey indicated nearly 75% of U.S. high school students had negative feelings about school. By 2023, persistent despair and a significant increase in the “transgender craze” were observed.

Special education classrooms, allowing cellphone use and lenient work completion, raised concerns about student lethargy.

Chronic absenteeism affected nearly 10% of K-12 students in 2023, impacting learning, while a 2022 survey revealed 1 in 4 Gen Z individuals aspired to be social media influencers, questioning the importance of formal education for financial security. [Higher Visibility]

3. Evident Factor: “More kids are entitled today”

Entitlement emerges when individuals believe they deserve preferential treatment without earning it. In 2020, during instances of looting and arson, the Black Lives Matter group justified these actions as entitlements in the form of reparations.

While data suggests a correlation between poor academic performance and poverty, it’s incorrect to assume a direct causation. For many immigrants from less developed nations, poverty serves as motivation to excel academically, leading to better opportunities.

In 2021, child poverty in America marked a historic low of 5.2%, a stark contrast to the 30% recorded in the 1960s. This significant reduction in child poverty has potentially led to a shift in mindset among today’s children, who now enjoy more comfortable lives. [Census]

This shift is occurring alongside a concerning trend of growing dependence on the big government, where the younger generation demands more benefits and entitlements.

4. ADHD: Justifying laziness

The perceived increase in student laziness is often linked to Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD), with its symptom of a lack of motivation potentially becoming an excuse for laziness.

While some students genuinely face neurological challenges like ADHD, concerns arise over the possible misdiagnosis of around 1 million U.S. children, using ADHD as a justification.

In contrast to Asian countries, ADHD rates were significantly lower compared to the USA in 2021.[NCBI]. Critics argue it’s because many Asians are not properly diagnosed. However, it can also be attributed to discipline, where laziness isn’t tolerated as much.

  • For every 100 children with ADHD, there are 83 Black and 77 Hispanic children with ADHD in the USA.
  • For every 100 children with ADHD, there are only 48 Asian children with ADHD in the USA.
  • ADHD is more commonly diagnosed in Black, non-Hispanic children (12%) than white children (10%), Hispanic children (8%) and non-Hispanic children (3%). [Forves]

The Individuals with Disabilities Education Act

In the mid-70s, IDEA (The Individuals with Disabilities Education Act) and Section 504 mandated schools to provide support and accommodations, such as Individualized Education Plans (IEPs), for students with mental disabilities, including ADHD.

These laws prioritized personalized education instead of pushing discipline and perseverance.

Apparently, traditional disciplinary approaches have not worked. However, traditional discipline remains the power tool in many Asian schools, and it continues to work, as reflected in recent reading, math, and science data.

The bottom line is that special accommodations for ADHD students have relaxed environments and lenient practices, which may unintentionally reinforce such behavior, prompting questions about whether ADHD is being utilized as a justification for academic struggles rather than a genuine neurological challenge.

In addition, the use of ADHD drugs may inadvertently contribute to modifying behavior.

5. Emotional Disability: A convenient excuse for laziness

Understanding mental disorders is complex, and the increasing terminology associated with diagnoses has sparked controversy.

One recently prominent term is “Emotional Disability,” specifically used to describe individuals facing anxiety attacks warranting special attention, breaks, or accommodations in school.

In the late 1990s, public schools shifted from punitive measures towards a more nuanced and holistic disciplinary approach, recognizing the need for a supportive and restorative framework.

Contrastingly, a few decades ago, children with high anxiety levels might have been told to “suck it up.”

Today, anxiety and emotional disability are acknowledged conditions requiring accommodation, especially considering the alarming rise in suicide rates and the widespread experience of depression among young people, partly attributed to the impact of social media.

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