Thinking About Generational Shifts…

So here are the ramblings of an educator watching how society is changing in front of her eyes:

This week my students & I were talking about generational theories (which for the most part I don’t wholeheartedly subscribe to but find fascinating in relation to historical events & how technological advances change human behaviours). I noticed that much current information on the subject stopped at the GI (Greatest) Generation. I remember a decade or more meeting people from the Lost Generation & I was willing to put money on the notion that there were still members alive from that cohort.

I would have lost that bet; the last member of the Lost Generation in the world died last month. It is mind-numbing to discover that a whole generation is gone in the world, while the Greatest Generation, their children, will be gone in the next 10 years (which will include two of my relatives). What is even more of a reality check is that the large demographic of Baby Boomers (my mom’s cohort) has started to make their exit, and my father’s generation – the Silent one – is quickly dwindling away. We all know that our stay here is temporary but when we confront the passing of time, that is another level of realization – and knowing that I will see four generations in humanity gone in my lifetime is mind-blowing.

This term that just ended was the first time I felt a generational shift (as a younger Gen Xer, a classroom full of Millennials never really moved or impressed me much 😂); the majority of my students were Gen Zers, & their astuteness, quickness, intellectuallism, activism, collectivism, & ability to multi-task w/ technology & still be perceptive to what I was teaching was disorienting. Their tolerance to modern-day issues & people’s differences made me realize how older generations, as much as we moved the bar in our times, are still subconsciously stuck in eras where we were emotionally vested in our futures & continued to push against older values until we settled down, or conformed – and then time stopped for us. Our musical tastes are an example of how we are frozen in time (see Adam Neely’s video below). So how can I as an educator today, knowing that in less than 10 years Alpha Gen (the first fully-born 21st Century generation that will never know what it is like to live in a non-digital world & will have a quicker, more intuitive ability w/ lighting speed information) will be making its entrance into my classroom, forbid students their technologies or get irritated at them when they are on their smart gadgets & laptops multi-tasking & processing info at fast speeds in my class? Or have the attention span of a gnat & must be stimulated quickly to not lose their focus? It is not them that has to adapt to me, it is I who must progress….

(I really do hope reincarnation is real, lol.)

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