Do FIRST kids behave better?

While reading a thread, I came to the realization that *The Robot Kids *are noticeably different from ‘ordinary’ High School kids. After just a few weeks in FIRST, I find that team members are

Calm and listening, not fidgety or talking
Behaving appropriately
Respectful of adults and classmates alike
Speaking more like adults
Thinking before asking
Willing to help almost always

If I had to use one word, it would be “Professional”

When I am mentoring the team, it is almost like discussing things with colleagues. OK, maybe colleagues who don’t know a lot, but are interested in learning.

With ‘other’ High School kids, I am seeing significantly more immaturity, inability to focus, and inappropriate behavior.

FIRST kids spoil me. I find myself getting annoyed by “typical” kids now.

sigh. Does anybody else see this?


haha i completely agree and i believe
that i am one excellent example of a
student who was forced to mature in
order to be taken seriously on my team.

and i have seen a few fellow students
clearly “grow up” to recieve the same
respect. thank you for the compliment.

From what I have seen FIRST students are generally much better behaved, after all that is the whole point of gracious professionalism, and thus FIRST. Of course, you have to remember they are still high school students, and so aren’t exempt from stupidity.(I can count the number of times I’ve done stupid things on one hand, assuming I ignore ninety-nine percent of them.)

I blame the mentors. It’s hard for students not to act mature with such great role models.

Eh, I could argue that with plenty of kids on our team its not the case. There are the kids you consider the “bad kids” who can be brilliant when it comes to something like FIRST.

Ultimately, I’d say no. Too much of a generalization.

lilstogi thats exactly how our team is…
Many of the guys (and girls sometimes) on my team are immature ALOOOT. But when it comes to robots they do focus and show their potential. I agree that this is a little too much generalized

This extends to the competitions as well. More than once, when I was volunteering at a regional, someone from the venue has come up to me and mentioned that the students are much better behaved than at other high school events that have been held there. Even though yes, there are exceptions, I agree, and everyone in FIRST should be proud. This type of competition could easily degenerate into the hyper-competitive, trash-talking, hate filled atmosphere that so many college and professional sports have become.

Let’s hope that the lessons and behaviors learned in FIRST continue throughout the student’s lives.

I’m not sure it happens after a few weeks, but I have noticed a remarkable difference in the students who have been FIRSTers for a year or more over the new students. Even the most hyper of the returning students is able to control the energy when necessary, and all are much more autonomous in team situations. I called it maturity, but it also includes a large measure of self confidence. I noticed it at a travel off-season that we went to this fall. The students were truly in control, seeking out the mentors when they needed help, not the other way around.

It made me excited to realize all the potential out there, especially when I look at all our new students, and have the reassurance that being on the team will have an impact, not only on technical knowledge, but on life!

Last year the team’s faculty sponsor (teacher) asked me why I didn’t become a teacher. I told him there were two reasons:

  1. The pay wayyyy too low (teachers are grossly underpaid)

  2. Real classes are not like First. These kids are here because they want to be, not because they have to be. They ARE more polite, more motivated, smarter, it would be a stretch to say they are more mature, but the same could be said about me, and I’m nearly 50…:stuck_out_tongue:

There are other groups that stand out as well, one of note is band kids. They are also better behaved and more respectful (as a whole) than the general HS population (with the possible exception of drummers.:wink:

I will agree in general that FIRST students behave better. I’ve heard it from at least two sources. Our bus driver one year commented that we were better behaved than the usual Cedar Pointe crowd he gets for HS groups. A maintenance/housekeeping worker in Atlanta said the crowd was much better and cleaner than your average NFL crowd.

I’d point out though, that sometimes part of our inherent geekiness (and I mean that in the best sense) involves some anti-social behavior. Individual kids may range from behaviors that are simple inability to deal with others because they are often loners, to ADD and even mildly autistic team members. Add in an “I am always right” component, and you have the scenario for disagreement. It probably won’t devolve into a bloody shootout or even fisticuffs, but mentors need to be aware of team/individual dynamics to ensure the team functions harmoniously, at least most of the time.

Oh, and I’ve found in life that the “good kids” are sometimes allowed to get away with more. :slight_smile:

I’ve noticed this too, but still, there are some exceptions (like some of the drummers ;))

I’ve worked with different groups of students since I was a student in high school, myself. Even working with peers, I learned very quickly that if they are given responsibility, they will assume it. It may take a false start or two but eventually, all the students I have worked with have met their responsibilities and have surpassed them in many instances.

Some of the other groups that come to mind regarding fostering responsibility and accountability are Scouts, 4-H, youth groups, and National Honor Society. On the college level, the college students that get involved in peer mentoring, student orientation, volunteering whether for college credit or because they choose to - all work well with responsibility and accountability.

Students who have to earn recognition, merit, or acknowledgement, usually blossom when they understand the value of their own achievements. It is very very cool.

On a side note - adults who sharpen and/or learn to appreciate these qualities more as mentors, blossom just as beautifully as their young team mates, usually surprising themselves and their loved ones.

they might

I’ve heard this time and time again, and would say that the good majority of FIRST kids this is true by the time they hit their second competition. Im factoring in what Cynette pointed out which is very true, that our returning kids “spoil” me as our new ones come in and I always end up thinking “what was I thinking??”. The new kids are often the typical high school kids that most are referring to, and are just anxious and unsure of what they are getting into. Many are freshmen with the attention spans of gnats, many have wide eyes, many bounce off the walls until you tape them to chairs. But eventually, something happens to all of those that stay with it. They do become more focused, respectful and considerate of others. Some this happens to in a short year, some it takes a few years.

I think there are two things at work here. They all get to interact with kids that are older than them, who have been through this, who have learned gracious professionalism and general respect. But the other thing is that once they realize that there are adults that are treating them more like adults than kids, that arent questioning their every move, that are chastising them for not turning in homework, that are actually interested in paying attention to them, something magical happens… they grow up. They mature. They learn respect for others.

I love the bus drivers, they do bring us back to earth. Our very first year, the bus driver that took us to Toronto asked us if we would ask for her again, as we were THE BEST group of high school kids she had ever had on her bus!! She was floored that these were regular high school kids and had never seen any so respectful. Another time was in Philly last year we hired a tour guide to take us around the city in our bus, and she absolutely loved us and wanted us to come back because not only were the kids respectful, but enthusiastic too! (not a bored bunch of high schoolers being dragged around by their teachers).

Now this is a generality, Ive seen plenty of FIRST kids who have acted out, we have even had kids on our team that I have told to “grow up”, but I think in general, the majority become good kids as a result of the program. They learn to work with others, they learn to work under high stress, and they learn to manage time, all are very important parts of growing up and maturing.

I think that FIRST is one of a number of organizations like that, as Jane pointed out. They treat the kids as adults (albeit younger adults) unless other behavior warrants other treatment.

There have been a number of comments about the number of Eagle Scouts in FIRST, or for that matter, Scouts in general. Scouting teaches maturity and leadership as well as outdoor skills. In fact, you have to have had a position of responsibility for a certain period of time before you can advance past the First Class rank (when you’ve learned all your skills). To advance, you must be responsible, serve others, and lead.

The same holds true in FIRST. While they teach a different set of skills, you still need maturity. You need professionalism, tempered with grace (or is it the other way around?). Professionals treat you as almost-equals, with the almost portion being the knowledge that you don’t have yet that they have and share. Because they share their knowledge, you gain that knowledge from them.

FIRST kids tend to be treated as adults, with the responsibility level appropriate to where they are. As they meet the challenge, they get another, slightly harder one. And they meet it. Their responsibility level grows. They take the initiative to learn.

That is why they tend to behave better: they are assumed to be responsible, professional young adults and not irresponsible, unprofessional teenagers until proven otherwise. And because of the human nature not to back down from a challenge, they generally don’t prove that they should be treated like typical teenagers. (There are exceptions, don’t get me wrong, but in general, this holds true.)

Kim, I think you hit the nail on the head here. That seems to be exactly it.

Certainly there are other organizations with the same effect - scouting, 4H, NHS are all good examples. And yes, not every kid “gets it” - but others notice it, and I think the reason is because of what Kim wrote in that quote up there.


Recently at TNT my dad talked to two of our mentors and their girlfriend/fiance and got glowing reviews about me. I would say I only know one of the four well, and wouldn’t recognize two of them. First is an organization where you leave lasting impressions on people you don’t even know.

I don’t think FIRST makes the kids more polite than normal, it just tends to self select a certain type of kid that is more likely to be well mannered and polite, etc.

I don’t think it’s that much better though. There are always going to be problem children, and I don’t think they’re all that much less common than they were in most of my high school classes.

Yes, I think that they do. Granted, saying that *all *of them are top notch might be stretching it, but alot of kids who are in robotics seem to get “it”. They understand the bigger picture beyond high school. Many people I talk to can’t see that; they don’t really want to. I agree that other groups like band and NHS tend to have more kids who see the bigger picture, too. I’m glad, because its nice to be able to talk to people who aren’t adults about more mature topics, like college, stuff thats going on in the world, or just about anything, and not sound like a “nerd” or anything like that.

I think it looks that way because the good kids are out doing something when the less-than-great ones are goofing off in the hotel room.

I agree. I was recently at a swim meet because a friend of my dad’s son was competing. There were about ten moms in the stands right in front of us bad mouthing the other swimmers, and sometimes their own kids! I swear, I wanted to tell them to stop!

At the Portland and Seattle competitions I was at last year, I never heard any parents bad mouthing anybody, and I certainly did not hear too many students doing the same. It’s kind of like a football game with the addition of gracious professionalism. Why can’t professional athletes and fans act the same way?

(Because they get paid!) :rolleyes: