Zach Morris from the hit show “Saved by the Bell,” aired in the late 80’s and early 90’s, shaped what “cool” was for me. The 90’s pop graphics and intro music will be forever burned in my mind. From what I wore to the words I used, I absolutely got some of my social cues from this fictitious television series. I don’t remember this, but my mom recalls me saying “I don’t want to be smart.” This started my revolt against good grades as a young man, I decided it wasn’t cool to be smart. Come on, who wanted to be Screech?! (He was the nerdy sidekick to the incredibly popular, irresponsible protagonist Zach.)
It wasn’t just me though. We had a whole culture influencing my generation that rebelled against education. It was totally acceptable to intellectually limp along, doing the absolute bare minimum, while chasing after very temporary high school values. Who needs good grades when you have the high school cheerleader on your arm? Not that I had that, I wasn’t all that cool, or at least I didn’t feel like it. Honestly, I felt like I didn’t totally fit in. College and even grad school were a much better fit for me. Who knows, maybe I have some Screech in me after all.
It wasn’t just T.V. characters like Zach Morris though, there were others like Bart Simpson that helped start a cultural movement away from education. Every joke, gesture, and punch line mirrored a 7th grade locker room. I mean seriously, one of the most popular movies when I was in high school was literally called “Dumb and Dumber.” Don’t get me wrong. I was the chief of sinners here. Perhaps this started even before my generation, but these are the characters that stick out in my mind.
As the global economy marched forward we were being left behind…and we loved it.
It was fun to be irresponsible and feed off our parents (and the rest of the world’s) hard work!
I remember hearing people make fun of foreign exchange students because they were so studious. Now some of those countries seem to be getting ahead of us. Doesn’t seem so funny anymore does it?
Here is what I propose, what we need to do. We need more of the heroes in television programs and movies for young people to be intelligent. We need to celebrate math, science, and philosophy like we do sports. We need to honor and support good teachers! We need dads and moms who don’t just throw a football in the backyard with their kids or sit in front of the TV together, but to also write stories, build Legos, and race through math fact cards together. I spent more than two extra hours after school playing sports, but heaven forbid a child gets 10 minutes of extra school work sent home!
Learning should be viewed in a POSITIVE light.
We shouldn’t just expect schools to instill this in our kids, we should be proactive about this at home! Even if our children don’t respond with a love for learning right away, we shouldn’t give up. My parents didn’t give up on me, they kept encouraging me to educate myself, and I have developed into someone who loves learning.
Maybe it’s just me, but I am tired of Americans being viewed by the rest of the world as obese, loud consumers that feed the global economy primarily because of our uncontrolled appetites, delving deeper into debt. Let’s be good stewards again! It’s time to inject wisdom into our culture and celebrate it when we see it grow in our children!
The ancient proverb still echoes today, “Get wisdom, get understanding; do not forget my words or turn away from them. Do not forsake wisdom, and she will protect you; love her, and she will watch over you.” (Proverbs 4:5, 6 NIV)