By St. Louis Finalists Alex Panchot and Reid Doctor
Metro High School
What is respect? Respect is an integral part of everyday human interaction. Respect can be towards anyone and anything, but the understanding of respect is the problem for today’s youth.
Respect, for me at least, is the common understanding of how people and objects want to be treated. I follow the golden rule, which is to treat others like you would want to be treated, the best that I can. The key to following this rule is probably suffering the consequences of others ignoring it. I feel that I will not truly feel respect towards a person unless I am in their position and suffer because of it.
The best example that I can think of would have to be being a student. The only way to understand the difficulty of school in general is to have to go through the same classes and experience it. Respect towards other students can mean that when I find a class to be easy while someone next to me is failing, I need to understand that I may find it easier, but am not a better person. They can always find some way to be better than me. Another example in school, while seemingly trivial, is the constant line- jumping that occurs whenever there is a desire at the end, like the desire for lunch. Disrespecting the system of the line not only undermines the point, it affects each person in it. I respect the line and everyone’s time in it, while suffering the consequences of respecting it. The two human problems that I feel are necessary for the system of disrespect to work are hypocrisy and apathy.
Both the lack of respect for students and teachers is caused by an abundance of apathy among students. Students do not care about each other, and as a result they have the belief that only they are important, only their time at lunch or in class is important, not anyone else’s. Children are brought up believing that they must disrespect others in order to gain respect, or at least not be the victim of it. Apathy towards schooling is the biggest problem for teachers because they have to force students to learn and take tests, which they fail due to lack of trying to learn.
Teachers and students are hypocritical a good deal of the time. Both tend to praise respect from others but not give it themselves. Thus, it is both realized as possibly the most fundamental value of all and is one of the least practiced.
Disrespect towards teachers is another issue with which today’s youth have a problem with. Students are hypocrites and believe that school should have more breaks and teachers give less work. The problem is that when students realize that they do not know the material, they quickly jump to blaming the teacher. This causes a rippling effect among students, which causes all respect for that teacher to be lost. Once the student feels that the teacher has wronged them, they attempt to wrong the teacher: an eye for an eye. Once the student bullies or ignores the teacher’s class, the cycle is repeated, only with more problems.
These students view the only solution for their problems to be cheating, which is disrespectful for everyone involved. While the student loses their chance to learn and the teacher loses their chance to teach, the biggest loser is the respectful students who choose not to cheat. They suffer the consequences of an unknowing teacher curving a grade unfavorably and unfairly. This is the distressing consequence of the cycle, disrespectful students have only cheating to attempt to save themselves from their own actions. Cheating only causes teachers to hold a high respect for their student’s abilities, which then causes a cycle of more difficult assessments followed by more cheating.
The main cause in all of this disrespect by students, that I can see, is the lack of the teaching of respect by parents, teachers, and eventually peers in preschool. Parents are the most responsible in teaching respect to young children. Parents have to teach what respect is so children can understand it
and not have the levels of apathy towards schooling that they have. I believe that overall, parents are ignoring cheating and do not attempt to teach their children to avoid it. These parents are teaching their children to use any means necessary to get to the top in any situation, school or the lunch line. However the parents may be teaching respect, they are not truly outlining what respect is and means because they themselves may have given up on respect. I believe that students and parents alike find themselves in many situations where they suffer because of disrespect, but they choose to be disrespectful rather than accept the problem and attempt to fix it.
I believe that if we made a more concerted effort to teach young people caring and empathy, leading to respect, we could truly make the world a better place.
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