The Teen Take: Trying and failing and trying again

Web Lead

Emily Ritter-Riegling is a Grade 9 student at Prince Charles Secondary School.

Emily Ritter-Riegling is a Grade 9 student at Prince Charles Secondary School.

There are some students out there, and we all know them, that try hard and work hard and always seem to do everything right. Everyone else just tells themselves they’re stupid and can’t do it. That’s when people stop. They stop trying to do well, they stop working hard and they stop caring. After a while of seeing others succeed and watching yourself fail, you just accept the fact that you can’t do it.

But perseverance is a virtue we all learn about as a kid and it seems to be something that many people are lacking. When things get difficult, we often just give up. Then we feel almost guilty that we didn’t try, but then, after some time, we just stop caring.

Everyone is always saying to let go of your worries and to live a stress-free life, but a little worry and stress can keep people in line. It can keep them from giving up and make sure that they still care. But obviously handing in an assignment on time, for most people, isn’t stressful. Why do students now not seem to worry about punctuality, grades and quality work?

I think I might have some idea, but to be honest, it’s probably just because they’re lazy. I’m also thinking that maybe, just maybe, kids don’t think that it matters, especially in the younger grades. But really it does. Not necessarily the grades, but the work ethic. If you teach yourself at a young age to work hard and try your best you will do just fine in high school. A lot of students, however, think that when they want to, when it really matters, they will be able to study, hand in assignments on time and pay attention in class. But that’s not how it works. It’s a skill set that is learned, practiced and perfected, and that’s something teens sometimes don’t understand. That even in Grade 6, when your grades don’t matter and the missing assignments stay missing, your work ethic will stay with you until you graduate and even further.

This generation is filled with people who have short attention spans and want everything to come to them right away. We live in a fast world that moves and changes every second. Is this why youth now often stop when things take too long or are too hard? They can’t seem to stay with something and finish it to the end. The world always has so much else going on, so many things much more interesting than an English report. They become distracted and unmotivated because they think they can’t do it.

But is there a way to change the fixed mindsets of today’s youth? Is there a way to make them see not just what is in front of them, but also behind? I don’t think we should be doting on the students, but I also don’t believe in shaming them. Sometimes they need encouragement and to be shown a different way to see things: if one smart, educated, talented adult told a struggling student that they’re not a failure, that they only failed, and that they have a choice to let that one failure drag them down or inspire them to be better. We need to be shown that the good things in life come if you work for them and that you can do whatever you want to if you care enough and stick with it.

Emily Ritter-Riegling is a Grade 9 student at Prince Charles Secondary School. The Teen Take is a column co-ordinated by Creston’s Teen Action Committee.