I had the great fortune to be at Educon 2.4 in Philly last weekend. Let me go on record AGAIN that the Science Leadership Academy kids are awesome! I spent the day with some of the most awesome kids on the planet. They were running a conference for teachers and having a ball at the same time! Some kids were working the video streaming stations in the conversation rooms, some were running the coat check, some were tending to feeding and watering hundreds of educators, but all were focused, respectful, helpful, and amazing.
I probably interacted with the kids at Educon 2.4 more than I did my Twitterverse. While I missed meeting several folks I had intended to, I enjoyed my time picking on the kids and listening to their quick comebacks and thoughtful responses. From the student speaker at the opening night panel discussion to the kids printing out boarding passes and calling cabs as the attendees were leaving, I was flat out impressed.
My time at my hotel was another story, though. For the 3rd year in a row, I stayed at the Embassy Suites Center City. It seems that about 25% of the hotel guests were Educon attendees, about 70% Ivy League Model United Nations Conference (ILMUNC) attendees and about 5% were wondering what they had gotten themselves in to. Let me just tell you…
THE “MODEL UNITED NATIONS” KIDS WERE EVERYTHING BUT MODEL!
Both sets of kids are fun-loving, bright, successful, teenagers who had an opportunity to interact with educators from all over the country.
The SLA kids made the most of this, asking questions about what we taught and where we were from and generally being interested in making positive connections. I even picked up a few SLA student followers on Twitter!
The ILMUNC kids I encountered were self-absorbed, entitled, and had fun at the expense of others. When a hotel has 20+ floors, it is not a good thing to play on the elevators. It took over 30 minutes for a gentleman who cannot safely walk down a set of stairs to go down a few floors in the elevators. Apparently, an apple battle took place and some non-teenagers were pelted with apples when the elevator doors opened. It appears no one has taught these Ivy League UN-ers basic elevator protocol and how to behave in public. And, it appears neither the hotel nor the chaperones intervened.
The response from the hotel each and every time that I complained was “each of the groups has chaperones.” My response was, “Maybe on paper, but not in reality.”
When I tried interacting with the ILMUNC kids (not fussing at them, asking them about their debate topics and countries they were representing), only a third or so responded as if they cared. I was even completely ignored by two of the students at one point.
Am I being too harsh? I don’t think so. Am I expecting too much of our young people? I don’t think so. Am I expecting too much from the adults that guide and shape our young people? Nope. The only time I witnessed a chaperone interacting with a student was when a student came to the bar area to check in with a chaperone. Yes, the chaperone was enjoying the free happy hour while the students were wreaking havoc on the hotel elevators.
The stark contrast between what I encountered at Educon by day and my hotel by night and at breakfast is like a tale of two futures for America. I choose for my future to be in the hands of the Science Leadership Academy kids!