A leading boarding school head has sparked a backlash after labelling today’s youngsters ‘overly mollycoddled’ with an ‘underlying sense of entitlement’.
Douglas Robb, 47, was criticised by former pupils after making his remarks in a blog on the website for the £33,960-a-year Gresham’s School in Holt, Norfolk.
Mr Robb said he was concerned that some young people lacked ‘grit’ and looked down their noses at certain vocations while expecting to land ‘a one in a million job’.
He is the latest educationalist to voice dismay over what has been dubbed the ‘snowflake generation’ by those who think they are too soft.
Mr Robb wrote: ‘Grit remains… something that schools and parents seem to have failed to engender in large swathes of young people.
‘A generation has come of age where many more individuals perceive themselves to be “one in a million”.
‘Among this generation, there is an underlying sense of entitlement. I don’t blame them.
‘They have been advertised to since birth; they have had credit and loans on a plate; they have been overly molly-coddled; and they have been overwhelmed by a strange combination of fictional sit-com characters, reality TV and social media stars, who paint a picture of perfection to be achieved.’
He said youngsters have been wrongly encouraged by governments to believe they deserve ‘more’ than their parents when really they should learn to be happy to do essential but unglamorous jobs such as policing or nursing.
Mr Robb, who became head of Gresham’s in 2014, said he decided to speak out after giving a job interview to a newly qualified teacher who asked him: ‘Why should I come and work for you?’
He said: ‘My lasting impression was of an “entitled” candidate who was looking for some further guarantee or incentive before committing to getting stuck in furthering their career…
‘There used to be a real sense of pride associated with doing “an honest day’s work”, whatever the role might have been.
‘That some youngsters now approach job interviews in the same way as they might approach buying a luxury holiday concerns me.’
Gresham’s former pupils include vacuum cleaner tycoon Sir James Dyson, actress Olivia Colman and composer Benjamin Britten.
The school was founded in 1555 by Sir John Gresham, who went on to become Lord Mayor of London. Former Gresham’s pupil Rebecca Lawrence, 23, who left in 2011 and now works for the civil service, said that Mr Robb was being unfair to generalise her generation.
‘These assertions left me feeling uncomfortable,’ she said. ‘Negative stereotypes of millennials are two a penny and you don’t have to look far to find them.’
She added: ‘Maybe children at his school are more privileged and so are more entitled, but he shouldn’t generalise our generation from a few.’
Online critics were angry too, with one, Phil Right saying: ‘Every generation thinks the next one is “spoilt, molly-coddled and entitled”.
‘How worrying that a head teacher isn’t sufficiently aware to realise that such comments are commonplace and worthless.’
Defending his opinions, Mr Robb added: ‘Generalisation is a necessary part of life if we are to be able to speak about trends that seem to be more prevalent among a particular group of people.
‘We must, of course, always be able to see individuals for who they are, whether they seem to conform to a generalisation or not.
‘It is now well-documented that employers have noticed a trend where young people seem ill-prepared for the requirements of the working day, despite boasting an impressive academic education.
‘I believe it is valuable for educators and governments to be informed about this in order to better prepare or equip young people for work.’