ETA: The following post is rather rant-esque because it is a hot button issue for me, so there is probably a lot of bias in it.
I first encountered the phrase and the book “Generation Me” at the 2007 Faculty Academy during Barbara Ganley‘s lecture. At the time I remember being struck by how many of the ideas (both good and bad) rang true to me. The millenial generation has been subject of much analyzing and I have heard ideas from both ends of the spectrum. I’ve heard everything from, the Millenials are the next “Great Generation” or they are a horribly self-absorbed generation.
Steve recently blogged about his view of the situation, knowing what his generation is like and being a teacher to the current generation of students. He says:
The younger generation seems to believe that they will be economically successful, whether or not they work hard, learn or save. And as a consequence, they don’t seem to be doing those critical activities very much.
I often get that sinking feeling that he is all too right. I’ll admit growing up in suburbia NJ I was very much in a bubble, I have never known real hunger or felt the threat of poverty knocking on the door of the two story house I live in. Assuming much of my generation has lived in considerable affluence it is no wonder that we have become lazy and are convinced of our own self-importance. I don’t believe it is entirely our fault because we did have parents who raised us and a society that made sure that we knew how special we were, because everyone is special and deserves a gold star.
One generation plants the tree the future ones receive the shade.
The future is rapidly changing and very few recognize that the job market will change and that people from poorer countries than ours (but not necessarily poor) will be willing to work harder than we do to get what they want. As a generation I am afraid that we just want to do the minimum amount of work to keep what we have already.
This problem shows itself in academia too. People complain that grade inflation has reduced the value of the diploma. It is fast becoming an item that can be bought by spending tuition on four years of school. Students are good at playing the game, we can manipulate and play the system for what its worth. I know because I’ve played it most of my life. The problem is the real world doesn’t care if we could manage to out maneuver teachers because when it comes time to face the music we will realize we don’t have the skills to do the job. Maybe it is a bit of an over-reaction to assume that all this will happen. I know I’m going at this with an angry attitude so my vision is a bit skewed.
Education has long been an important part of a sophisticated civilized society. College is not just about teaching people how to think critically for their upcoming Spanish exam, but to be able to analyze and question the world. It helps us ward off fear-mongering, so I’d even be careful about listening to what I have said in this post.
There are certainly good points about my generation, but there are those moments (like now) where I have my doubts that we will be anything better than average (or worse). We have so many advantages, more than most of the generations before us and the rest of the population. But we don’t utilize our advantages and it just drives me crazy sometimes. Not because I don’t see myself as part of the problem, but that all too often I catch myself being part of it too.
/End rant (didn’t mean to have two rant posts in a row, oh well).