Jaden Smith, the son of Will and Jada is back in the news, opining on the inherent lack of value of school and education. It is true, times change. Whereas change is inevitable, the caveat is that progress is optional. With the continued proliferation of social media and simultaneous diminishing of parental discipline, we have more and more public examples of pretentious children with entitlement issues. In a series of tweets, Jaden argued the following:
People Use (sic) To Ask Me What Do You Wanna Be When You Get Older And I Would Say What A Stupid Question The Real Question Is What Am I Right Now? All The Rules In This World Were Made By Someone No Smarter Than You. So Make Your Own."
School Is The Tool To Brainwash The Youth. Education Is Rebellion. If Newborn Babies Could Speak They Would Be The Most Intelligent Beings On Planet Earth."
If Everybody In The World Dropped Out Of School We Would Have A Much More Intelligent Society . . . Everybody Get Off Your Phones And Go Do What You Actually Wanna Do"
It's one thing to be a typical child, struggling with the angst of adolescence, puberty and a contentious relationship with parents and authority in general. It's another when that same child can use Twitter, Facebook and Ask.fm with impunity in its expression. Meaning, sending a child to his/her room to sit unsupervised is a recipe for disaster; no longer an opportunity to reflect on inappropriate behavior.
And then there's Jaden...
Jaden Smith (with more than 4 million Twitter followers) is simply the latest and it's time the grown-ups in the room started addressing it.
As a child of the 70s, I remember the implied consent of parents to allow their children to be policed by other adults in the same community. Aberrant public behavior could be confronted by any adult, both swiftly and directly when your own parents were not around.
Bad public behavior used to have public consequences and the child's behavior was a reflection on the parents, once upon a time.
Those times are gone and we are now reaping the reward.
I also remember when parents could spank their children. I was raised on the belt and have no problem praising my parents (both educators) for teaching me responsibility, accountability, to respect authority and the consequences of poor decisions through corporal punishment. It was done to teach me the realities of life in the safety of the home; before the judicial system and/or the morgue had to step in to reinforce their point.
Those times are gone, long gone, and we are now reaping our reward. I didn't say abuse or beat your children, but spank them. It's unpopular and politically incorrect to say and in some cases illegal to do. And to all who feel that way, I would say "I don't give a damn." A few more spankings these days would help stem the pandemic of incorrigible miscreants running amok in this 21st century.
Yes, I said that.
Will and Jada are my generational contemporaries and in many ways we share the same social community, raised the same way with many of the same values. I'm not speaking of an economic social community, I'm talking shared values in terms of our upbringing. For whatever reasons, their son Jaden isn't clear on the value of education, formal or otherwise. And since Jaden decided to "act up in public" then it's also appropriate for him to be disciplined in public. Public behavior has public consequences. I'm going old-school.
Dear Jaden Smith:
You are all of 15 years old. You've yet to attain any meaningful level of academic status or earn your way in this world. There is an old saying that someone of privileged birth was "born on 3rd base and thought he hit a triple." But it's worse with you, standing at home plate, never swung a bat in life, thinking you've hit a home run and lecturing the world on not wasting time running the bases.
In your first 15 years, the sum total of your achievements is inextricably linked to walking through doors opened by your famous parents who previously earned their way. You are way too impressed with yourself for reasons and blessings having nothing to do with you.
Yes, this letter is blunt. That's the real world; one without parents to coddle you or sycophant Twitter followers to affirm you.
I won't dwell on the ridiculousness of your suggestion that everyone should drop out of school, the thousands or so responses to your tweet probably covered that. There's something else you need to hear, beyond just highlighting the end to all doctors, engineers, teachers, programmers, bankers, accountants et al. Here is something else to consider as to the importance of school/education.
School is the place where young people learn the value of community. It is the place where children (like you) learn how to interact and coexist with those who look, think and ultimately see the world differently. It is the place where one learns the difference between appropriate and inappropriate behavior, and the ramifications of each. School is where young people learn the basics of equality, humility and the true meaning of a meritocracy. All of which are the guide posts to successfully navigating life outside of Twitter.
ALL of which have escaped you and it is curious given the fact that both of your parents should know better.
There is a direct correlation between the worst aspects of society and lacking education. You wouldn't know this because you are still a child and have neither the life experience nor the education to understand these truths or process their significance. Remember, you didn't LIVE "The Pursuit of Happyness," but were just given a gift co-starring role in it by Daddy.
Know the difference.
Your world-view is not unlike the child who dreams of consuming ice cream, soda and pancakes everyday instead of vegetables. School is very much like vegetables, eschewing immediate gratification for everything you need in the long run. Your message of "ice cream and pancakes" is well-received among many of your peers, I get it. But what you don't get is that 99.9% of your 4 million Twitter followers, (you know, the ones not born into ridiculous privilege) are harmed by such a message. The essential difference between childhood and adulthood is accepting responsibility for decisions and dealing with the consequences. You're not there (adulthood) yet in age or maturity.
Once upon a time, "grown folks" would say, "children are to be seen and not heard." While I happen to believe such sentiment is a bit excessive, it was prescient and foreshadowed the ills of the coming social media revolution.
Instead, I will leave you Jaden with the same admonition my parents gave me a thousand times over. It was good enough for me, so I know it's good enough for you. It goes like this...
You are a child, you don't make the rules, you follow them until you are an adult and willing to accept responsibility for the decisions you make...ones more important than hanging out with Justin Bieber or the family Kardashian.
Your opinions on school and brainwashing are cute, but reflect poorly on your parents and demonstrate why spankings still have value.
And just in case my advice seems out of date, let me update it with a hashtag for you and your generation.
Morris W. O'Kelly (Mo'Kelly) is host of "The Mo'Kelly Show" on KFI AM640/XM Satellite and "Mo'Kelly in the Morning" on KTLK AM1150. The Mo'Kelly Report is a syndicated politics and entertainment journal. Contact him at firstname.lastname@example.org and all commentary is welcome.