Are You Defined By Your Generation?

Recently, I made a shocking discovery: I am considered a Millennial.

Yes. I'm part of that generation that is the current bane of everyone's existence as shown below:

Ok, I definitely laughed at a few of those and even made me think of my sister, who is also a Millennial. But I also kept thinking that I'm not that person. I don't think everyone deserves a medal. I struggle to decode slang. I moved out at 18 years old. And so on. 

These thoughts were pushed even further into my mind by my EDTECH 537 course, where we've been reading about generational differences in regards to technology. The articles raised two major questions: whether or not generalizations about different generations are accurate AND whether or not these differences influences the way people approach technology. 

For me, I agree with Professor Reeves who stated that, "It is definitely not recommended to make assumptions about any one individual, regardless of gender or other factors, based upon his/her membership in a chronological generational cohort" (2008, 20). 

I do think its interesting to read studies done about generations and their attitudes toward technology, authority, responsibility, etc. and some understanding can be gained from them. Yet these studies are far from accurate and should not determine how we treat people. Everyone is an individual.

Just like in life, everyone makes assumptions. They can be right or wrong, but they shouldn't drive everything we do. For example, I would think that the constant presence of technology in my students' lives would mean they know how to type effectively, but I can quickly see that it is not the case when very few of my students type with more than their index fingers. 

I'm not saying that you can't believe in the digital natives and digital immigrants that Prensky describes in his article or generational differences, but you must always remember that students are individuals. You need to talk with them, build relationships with them, and truly get to know them in order to effectively educate them. You may be surprised.

Reeves, T.C. (2008, January 22-25). Do generational differences matter in instructional design? Online discussion presentation to Instructional Technology Forum.


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