Kids These Days

Seen on Twitter:

Kids asked to put on “Soldier Boy” [sic] Now I feel old… They call that MUSIC? No melody, no harmony, no tune…

Yeah, but rhythm and rhyme to spare

My shoulder recently dislocated, my body spontaneously intolerant of lactose, it’s time for me to face facts that I’m getting really, really old.

Tweets like these, mercifully, remind me that there are people out there even older than me but they’re encouraging and confounding at the same time. They force the question:

At what point will I stop reconciling my student’s interests against my own and begin defaulting to “… kids these days.”?

What’s it gonna be? Acoustic glass breaking? Puppy yodeling? I’ve weathered ghost riding, hyphy, four Saw movies, and the Soulja BoyNot that I have any difficulty enjoying this. with a sympathetic, curious mind.

Anyone have any experience staving off this kind of inevitability?

How long do I have?

[Update: Love Diana’s response. Gives me hope.]

I believe a teacher becomes a little less effective every year that they believe there is something innately wrong with kids because of the clothes they are wearing or the music to which they are listening. Can’t we evolve to a point where we EXPECT that ‘kids these days’ will not be be like those that came before?

[Update II: I also dig what Mr. Moses is preaching.]

The answer has to be “never”. If you’re not into the fact that your kids are into something then you’re in trouble. You don’t have to be into it, but you have to respect that they are. If you don’t do this it gets real tough for them to get into what you’re into.

I'm Dan and this is my blog. I'm a former high school math teacher and current head of teaching at Desmos. He / him. More here.


  1. I’m hoping that the answer to that is a resounding, “Never!”

    The best medicine, though, is to have kids of your own. Gives you license to act like one yourself.


    Oh sure, your hair may thin (premature baldness at 22 is no fun), you’ll one day find yourself searching for minivan reviews, and at some point you’ll realize you look ridiculous in some article of clothing that seemed like such a good idea when you bought it, but if you somehow manage to stay young at heart you will enjoy your job — and therefore your LIFE — for many, many more years.

  2. I actually have a pact with a few friends that if I ever say “Kids these days” with any amount of seriousness that I am to be finding a new line of work within the year. With all professional endeavors, it is important to understand your audience. You don’t have to like everything that the ‘kids these days’ like, but it is important to try to at least appreciate what influences them and how they spend their freetime. The songs may be different, but I know when I was a teenager (15 years ago) I was equally misunderstood by adults with regard to music, clothes and fashion. Remembering what that disconnect between adult and teen feels like is the key part of it… and use it to value the reality that your students create with their own sense of style. I believe a teacher becomes a little less effective every year that they believe there is something innately wrong with kids because of the clothes they are wearing or the music to which they are listening. Can’t we evolve to a point where we EXPECT that ‘kids these days’ will not be be like those that came before?

  3. Dan, I’ll have to show my age when I say that I really look more for some good, old fashioned Filipino transvestite prisoner dancing to Thriller when I want high quality YouTube dance videos. That “Soulja Boy” video can never match the grandeur of so many hundreds of orange-clad prisoners in lock step!

    [side note: during my short-lived stint as a DJ in college, I did play my share of cuts from the Thriller album]

  4. After watching several dance reality shows over the last few years I think I could do “Crank Dat Soulja Boy Full”. All it would take is some instruction, a couple of Advil and that shirt!! Where do you buy a shirt like that?

  5. The democracy of YouTube lets you learn it too:

    As for the tall T’s, let Andre 3000 speak on the “Walk It Out” remix:
    “Your white T, well, to me look like a nightgown / Make yo momma proud, take that thing two sizes down / Then you’ll look like the man that you are, or what you could be”

    Finally, if none of this works for you, just ride with Al:

  6. I still bristle at “kids these days” comments at 43. However, I confess that each year that goes by? I find high school just to be so darn cute! (And my kid in HS doesn’t go to a conventionally cute school) The kids in the district that go to the Arts magnet HS? They’d die if they knew how adorable I find them and their clothes, hair, tattoos, etc. ;-D

  7. Ha! Now this is great stuff here. I face this on a daily basis. I’m in my third year of teaching arts and humanities. Which means I am surrounded by this idea every day. It was so easy my first year to know everything that my students were talking about. I’ve noticed though that each year leaves me having to google the stuff they talk about. I feel like I have to keep up because every time I shrug off the music, movies, etc… that they are into, I risk the chance of becoming irrelevant. My solution… a pot of pure Honduran coffee and a dance session where they teach me how to Crank Dat. The coffee helps take the edge off :).

  8. My strategies to keep “wit it:”

    #1 Never say “wit it”

    #2 Always ask the students to explain something I don’t understand/know (side note: be careful because you never know what you’ll get ie. one of my students explaining what “skeet” meant in song “Get Low”)

    #3 Bringing to school at the end of the year my box of high school stuff so we could laugh at the 80s clothes and hair. (“Is that you???? HAHAHAHAHA)

    #4 Loving the kids who come into my room every year and, because I love them, respecting what they love

    P.S. I was taught the Soldja Boy dance by one of my students this year. I taught him the running man.

  9. It’s all coming clear—some of my sixth graders were doing the Soldja Boy Dance and I just nodded my head like I knew what they were doing–now I actually do!

  10. So THAT’S what KT is doing when he randomly breaks into full body spasms. Thanks for the insight! I knew he was dancing, but had no idea the “moves” were to this specific song. Sounds naive maybe, but I’ll be the first to admit I am a lifelong learner.
    Honestly, I got a whole decade on you, but I still have an issue with the whole “kids these days” thing. It’s like Footloose all over again.