Why did Margaret think that kids have changed in "View From Saturday"?

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dymatsuoka eNotes educator| Certified Educator

Margaret Draper thinks that kids, and sixth graders in particular, have changed because instead of asking "Now what?", they now are more apt to ask "So what?"  Her comment refers to how the attitude of children has deteriorated. 

"Now what?" indicates a certain excitement about learning, a sense of eagerness, and a hunger for new experiences.  "So what?", on the other hand, expresses an attitude of apathy or disdain.  Margaret Draper is saying that children nowadays are no longer excited about learning.  Instead of accepting new material with enthusiasm, they are more likely to respond with resistance.

Margaret Draper was ironically the principal at the first elementary school at which Mrs. Olinski taught.  She was an exacting administrator who ran a tight ship.  At her school, students were held to strict standards, and "there was no graffiti on the walls, no gum chewing, running or shoving in the halls".  Children left her school having "mastered enough skills to be able to do something with them...mostly, they could read - really read".

By the time Margaret had been ready to retire as an educator, "sixth grade had changed, but sixth graders had changed more".  Whereas at the beginning of her career, sixth grade had been the top grade of elementary school, it was now the bottom level of middle school.  More notable than this, however, was the change in the children themselves.  They had become insolent, and harder to teach, and Margaret "had not been sorry to retire when she did" (Chapter 3).