Young people today are more sophisticated than their peers in the past (“Why the Myth of Meritocracy Hurts Kids of Color,” The Atlantic, Jul. 27). Perhaps that’s why a study in the peer-reviewed journal Child Development found that traditionally marginalized youth who grew up believing in meritocracy showed an increase in risky behaviors and self-esteem in middle school.
That’s not surprising. What they know is reality leaves many of them embittered or at least disillusioned. But learning that life is not fair is no reason for schools to teach students that they are victims. Unfortunately, I see that happening in too many schools populated by low-income young people. As a result, students are shortchanged because they are not taught the knowledge and skills that can provide them with a better life.
Success comes from doing the best one can. That does not mean denying the existence of discrimination. But dwelling on the subject does students a grave disservice. The best way to address the unfairness of life is to give them a quality education. That way they will be equipped to find a well paying job.
The opinions expressed in Walt Gardner’s Reality Check are strictly those of the author(s) and do not reflect the opinions or endorsement of Editorial Projects in Education, or any of its publications.