HONESTY is the new best policy.
At the end of term, my fellow teachers and I move, in reverse order, from the hell week of final exams and terminal requirements to the purgatory of determining whether to pass or fail a student.
From conversations, it would seem that the new normal among Millennials is to tell the plain, unvarnished truth, in contrast to past generations’ survival instinct to concoct the most elaborate excuse to explain tardiness.
Teacher: Why are you entering my class an hour late, Isko? And where is your assignment?
Student of old: I joined a multi-sectoral mobilization to protest the onerous priorities of the U.S.-backed, military-propped dictatorship to foist their imperialistic bombast through grossly inaccurate and ungrammatical textbooks. We ended hours of street marching with a book- and effigy-burning spectacle. As a symbolic act, I also threw the books in my knapsack into the bonfire. My assignment for your class was inserted in one of the books that are now, inevitably, part of the cold ashes that is but a precursor of what will happen to all U.S.-backed, military-propped dictatorships. “Ibagsak!”
Student today: I forgot the time while having lunch with friends.
What do the young think when they explain that they cannot possibly wake early enough for a 9 a.m. class? I appreciate direct honesty, specially because I don’t have to wade through Marx and Mao (or Freud, if the student prefers psychoanalysis over polemics).
However, my fellow teachers and I wonder about young people’s chances with future bosses who will hire or fire employees not according to liberal principles of freedom of expression but the values of the marketplace.
On a deeper level, teachers are concerned about the sense of entitlement that lies beneath this indifference to the consequences of saying the first thing that’s on one’s mind.
“I couldn’t get up early” can be interpreted to mean many things, each one only varying in degrees of unpalatability: I prefer sleeping to the class. I’m not going through the effort of making an excuse. Why should I apologize when the class is too early for insomniacs like me?
In standard English: I don’t care. IDC, according to Internet slang.
Words and actions have consequences. That’s probably the earliest restraint the Superego and the Ego put on the Id, to simplify Freud. The primal urges we satisfied heedlessly as babies should be submerged or managed by our more mature selves.
That’s a challenging message to put across to 16-year-olds now. See a pretty lady? Wolf-whistle and leer. Like a woman who’s indifferent to your attentions? Joke about raping her (even if she’s indifferent because she’s dead).
Criminals? Order “shoot-to-kill.” Criminal suspects? Same prescription. Corrupt journalists? Endorse “assassination.”
Chastising Millennials for saying and doing less insensitive things changes in the time of President-elect Rodrigo Duterte.
Parents and educators have challenges lined up when the infantile and the puerile, the dehumanizing and the polarizing emanate from a 71-year-old politician whose foul mouth and antics failed to dent a landslide victory that handed to him the leadership of 100 million Filipinos.
One is so tempted to shrug and walk away: IDC MEH. But what then?
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*First published in Sun.Star Cebu's June 5, 2016 issue of the Sunday editorial-page column, "Matamata"