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Generation WHY!

Heather is a Primary Teacher from Canada who has come to the end of her time working in London through Protocol Education. She gives us plenty to think about in her final blog...

I thought I’d begin this final blog of mine with a quotation that was shared by a fellow teacher and friend of mine, who has just recently begun his own family.

"Some parents don’t wish their kids to fail. I admit I want my children to. I want them to fail, so they can learn how to get back up. I want them to not get every gift they want on their Christmas list, so they can appreciate what they have and work for what they don’t. Lastly, I hope all of them get at least one or two teachers they hate. That way they will learn that in the real world, they will have to work with people (and bosses) they may not like,” anonymous teacher.

I find this particularly important as we begin to notice individuals in our classrooms that are rounding off ‘Generation Y’ and bordering the Millenial babies of ‘Generation X’. The web has countless accounts of characteristics attributed to these students. We’ve all seemed to notice how different and insufficient our students seem to be, as are the parents who seem to lack rules or authoritative steps to guide their children through difficult encounters (such as homework, responsibility of punctuality, organization, etc.).

One website declares that ‘due to the endless positive feedback that was showered upon Gen-Y kids throughout their lives, the young adults of this generation tend to be extremely confident -- some would say overconfident [. . .] yet the nickname of the Peter Pan Generation for not really "growing up" and heading out on their own until their early 30s’ has seemed to grant them the future ‘luxury of bouncing from job to job until they find one that suits them’. It will be this ‘lack of fear about holding on to one job [that will] make them outspoken and unafraid of the boss (Franco). 

Having a lack of difficult encounters may indeed strengthen their egos, but it will not assist them in finding strength within themselves and deter those negative thoughts that come creeping in if they are faced with certain failures that occur in the real world we’re preparing them for. One school in Northern Australia has an answering machine service for parents calling in to discuss their children. It’s quite surprising how much blame the parents have placed on the teachers’ shoulders instead of looking at the reasons for low marks, and accrediting the methods and efforts or lack thereof to their beloved child.

I understand the concerns of parents and the amount of work their child must process in the younger years. I for one, despised how little of my childhood I feel I missed out on, and as such, detest the system in which I was brought up in. However, I also know that my television time was limited, and intrinsically I learned time management and self-discipline which is exactly what I practice now, as a professional, when it comes time to marking those ‘big writing projects’ over my weekends.

‘Gen Y'ers want stimulating work that gives them lots of opportunity for change and growth -- both personally and professionally. They crave instant feedback at work, much in the same way text messages to their friends are often answered within seconds, or their posts on Facebook are quickly "liked." They don't want to be cogs in a corporate machine, nor do they want simply to be told what to do by an overbearing boss. They want to shape and be shaped by their daily work experience’ (Franco) – and don’t we all!

Seemingly, ‘children born during this time period have had constant access to technology (computers, cell phones) in their youth [and so] they crave constant and immediate feedback.  This is the result of having every whim addressed with a few keystrokes’ (Franco). Furthermore, ‘the days of leaving a voicemail or shooting off an e-mail and waiting for a reply are long gone, and may have never really been part of this group's routine anyway. They need information now, and they have the tools to get it’ (Franco).

‘Gen Z seem like an over-stimulated, impatient lot’, as ‘educators are on the front lines of the Gen Z migration into adolescence, and they recognize that this group is different. One of the challenges the constant flow of information presents is that when tasked with solving a problem, today's students look for the quick answer rather than work toward solving the problem on their own. Their instinct is to pursue speed instead of accuracy’ (Franco).

‘According to some, this absenteeism compounds an issue already at work in Gen X's parenting style: overindulgence. The overriding desire for parents today is to raise children with high self-esteem, even if that means never correcting them or challenging them to achieve something beyond their reach’ (Franco). The ‘combination of the independence gained from powerful, mobile technology and the constant sense of affirmation from their parents has produced a sense of entitlement in Gen Z that can be seen as a double-edged sword. They have the resources and initiative to make positive changes where they see the need but may not have the experience with failure necessary to know what it takes to persevere’ (Franco). This is what makes the initial quotation so prevalent and necessary to consider as a parent and educator. ‘Where previous generations had to rely on a parent or teacher or supervisor to explain something, Gen Z isn't bound by those constraints and can access the info they need when they need it and get to work’ (Franco). By scaffolding the appropriate challenges and seeking ways to step back and learning when to step in, we should be acknowledging overcoming failures as the primary goal in our students.

“You look upset that you didn’t pass, perhaps you could think of ways in which you will do better next time and stop focusing on the past. Let’s create some steps you can take to increase your chances of the outcome you want. Success takes work!”

Franco, Michael.

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Tags: Heather, LondonNorth, Canadian-trained, supply, thoughts, generations, differences, opinions

Category: Australian Teachers

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