Saturday, December 18, 2010

What's so big about being a "Millenial" anyway?

If you read my blog occasionally, you may know that I am working on obtaining my Master's degree in education. Currently, I am taking two courses: Reading in the Context Area and Philosophy of Education. Both very interesting classes, and it is amazing to see how many different perspectives there are just in the field of Education alone.
I have a fellow student who goes on and on about Millenials - that generation which was born in the last decade of the old century or the first decade of the new one. I was reading an article in the Washington Times which stated these Millenials are the children of the generation called the Baby-boomers. They aren't. They belong to us, Generation X, otherwise known as the children of the 70's and 80's.
This new generation - referred to hereafter as M's - have been blessed with an ever expanding access to information and technology. There is no question that they are more connection and have more access to information than any other generation in our history. It's all right there for them at the touch of their fingers. But is that always a blessing? If it is, it's a mixed one.
M's can multi - task and organize thoughts and data in ways not previously realized. They are also spoiled, used to the answers being at their finger tips. They don't have to know who John F. Kennedy was, or what his accomplishments were, if they need to know, they just google it. My father, who was a member of the Greatest Generation, could do amazing math facts all in his head. Now, our children rely on calculators and have difficulty performing without them or other technological tools.
They don't read. Not because they can't, but because they chose not too - which is worse. In 2005 research was conducted on high school seniors. This research was conducted by the American Freshman Society, and is a yearly survey. Alarmingly, they found that in this year and throughout the new millenium, one- quarter of high school graduates who've gone on to college have NEVER read a word or literature for their own enjoyment and or enlightenment. Further, this generation seems to view this anti-literacy as cool.
So I ask again, what is so great about generation M? As a future educator and as the mother of two members of this generation , I view them as the greatest challenge I will ever face. They have the potential for so much and yet, so often seem to opt for the easy answer.


Nikki said...

I love you and how you are so thought provoking! I have to disagree though that today's kids (teens) aren't readers... well at least the ones in my house are! I think that just like anything else if we want kids to do something we have to point them in the right direction. Perhaps those who participated in the survey haven't had the right role models in their lives to point them in the right direction towards reading as enjoyment. Of course I could be wrong on all of this but I wonder if those who participated counted things like reading blogs or articles online? If they read something that a friend sent, I'd count that as enjoyment. Plus, there are hundreds of things you can read for enjoyment besides books.

Lisa said...

I have witnessed a lot of what you are talking about. For the last 17 years I have taught 6th 7th and 8th grades. Today's students are very apathetic. Not all, but enough to be noticed as a problem to education. Education flows in trends. Everyone is looking for that quick fix key. Students of today do not see a purpose for learning...they are constantly looking for the easy way. They have also figured out that if you do absolutely nothing you will be passed on anyway. Teachers are constantly told that research shows retaining a student does not help their self esteem and not very successful. However, when we try to discuss how sending them on to the next grade only creates larger holes in their education then we are told to differentiate to help with those holes. Ok, sure, but the all mighty state test is not differentiated and my name goes after that student's scores. I do not know any answers to educations problems, but I do know that if I had not had the fear of failing a grade I would not have worked so hard to make sure I passed.