I have a friend who runs a craft group for kids. She is often dismayed that the kids she teaches often lack basic crafting skills . . . like gluing and cutting. And these are kids ranging from 2nd - 7th grades. She says that what is even more baffling is that they are incapable of following simple instructions. She says that with each craft, she breaks them down to easy steps . . . and even then, the kids have a difficult time following what she's doing. And, just as disheartening is that the kids in her group rarely work outside the prescribed template, they are fairly lacking in creativity.
We have had many a discussion about how we were learning to knit and sew and create large paper mache' sculptures at ages much younger than these kids.
I've got another example of this spiral into helplessness.
A class mate of a child I use to baby sit for has started a foodie blog. She is newly into her 30s and has a real, grown up job. She decided that it was about time she learned what that weird room with all the appliances really is for after all.
She writes that she printed out a simple recipe and was happily gathering ingredients in the grocery store t prepare her own dinner when she realized the instructions called for several hours between prep steps. So, she googled something else to eat and came across two recipes that claimed to be quick. So, she purchased entirely different ingredients and went home to start creating.
After chopping and throwing ingredients into the pot did she read the recipe enough to realize she'd already screwed it all up. Her finished project, as much as it was a learning experience, wasn't actually food she wanted to eat.
But, what I saw was someone who couldn't be bothered to read past the first line of a recipe before finding herself lost. I think this is a phenomena particular to her generation . . . they don't read all the way through an article or recipe before launching head first into something.
Just wait until they have kids and need to assemble a bike on christmas morning.