I just don’t know. I’m always a little skeptical of the headlines about the differences in generations and learning – the digital natives vs. the digital immigrants. I understand the change in thinking patterns and recognize the need to change the way we teach. Shame on those who haven’t recognized that yet. My skepticism comes from my dislike of painting groups with large paint rollers. I know a lot of immigrants that trump the technical skills of natives and have seen it in the training room – someone can text message in the dark but can’t resize and move a window on their desktop. I know there are an equal amount of stories on the immigrants…desktop? there’s nothing on top of my desk! Hence, my dislike of broad labels.
But what about non-technology stuff associated with those under 25? I’ve always wanted to research the generation topic in depth – you know, get at the empirical stuff. So when Danah Boyd at aphonenia described Jean Twenge’s book Generation Me as having a “shitload of data” I felt the need to read it and so I’ve just bought it and look forward to reading it. I wanted to get at the ‘changes in the brains’ vs. the ‘changes in technology.’ Danah’s comments on the book, and narcissism in particular, are something we should all recognize as educators.
Twenge does an amazing job at outlining how our schools have become completely useless at educating because it’s more important to make students feel good than to be critical of their work.
What options does this leave us in the workplace? I’m sure most of us build safe environments for our learners – places where mistakes are OK and encouraged. But what about critical feedback? How’s that working for the under-25 crowd? In my experience many left their job within 2-3 years. They had become educational sponges – taking all the online classes, attending all the webinars, getting professional certificates, going off to boot camp training. Did they leave because they couldn’t get what they wanted – what they felt they deserved?
I am a mid-40s digital immigrant with three kids – a teen, a tween, and a pre-tween (this makes me a queen I think : ). They are classified as “Gen Y” or “Net Gen” – a real petri dish for observing generational differences.
My kids are narcissistic I’m sure but I tell them they haven’t done their best (when they haven’t) and they survive. I guess this is something not all parents would say and I think that’s unfortunate. I know I’m making mistakes – my best child-raising advice was given out before I was a parent – but I think I’m raising kids that might just be able to take criticism and use it constructively. At least that’s my story today. Hopefully whoever trains them at their first job won’t face tears or hostility when their work is criticized.