Most of the students we teach today are in the Millennial Generation (born from 1982-2001). According to demographers, these students (who are between the ages of about 7 and 26), are comparatively optimistic, confident, achieving, pressured, and cooperative team players. Millennials have become a generation of positive trends in educational achievement. Millennial’s aptitude scores have risen within every racial and ethnic group.
One Millennial in five has at least one immigrant parent. Thanks to immigration surges, Millennials have become, by far, the most racially and ethnically diverse generation in U.S. history. Yet, they tend to ostracize outsiders and compel conformity. Millennials feel more of an urge to homogenize, to celebrate ties that bind rather than differences that splinter. Millennials are less inclined than GenXers were at a similar age to take big career risks. They have a fear of failure, aversion to risk, and desire to fit in to the mainstream.
For Millennials, “collaborative learning” has become as popular as independent study was for Boomers or open classrooms for Gen Xers. Surveys confirm that Millennials don’t mind a more structured curriculum, more order, more stress on basics. They grew up in the standards era. It’s how the standards are taught, not so much what they are, that seems to matter most to Millennials.
Recently, the news reported that 2007 broke a record for the number of births in the United States and that 40% of them were by out-of-wedlock parents. This new “baby boom,” combined with uncertainty the nation faced after 9-11 and the current economic recession will shape the newest generation born 2002-present. These students are our 6 and 7 year olds in school now. So what types of instructional strategies will resonate most with this new generation? Will they still love collaborative learning as much as Millennials or will they go a different way? What will distinguish them from students in previous generations? For those of you teaching this new generation in kindergarten, first and second-grade classrooms, have you noticed any differences among them and their older peers?
Written by Matt Kuhn.