Culture

THE NEW WAY TO LOOK AT EDUCATION

Dear Millennials: Your Parents Lied To You

CJW, May 10, 2010 6:50 PM

FamilyBeach.jpg

(Millennials, often called Generation Y, or Gen Y, were generally born between 1978 and 1995 - ages 14 through 31 - and make up the largest and fastest growing segment in the workforce today.   You may know them as your students, teachers or parents.  Let us know if this scenario sounds familiar! - Ed. Note)


Dear Millennials:  Your Parents Lied To You

By Bill Sledzik

"You're wonderful, sweetie. Just keep working hard and you can be anything you want to be. Great job!"             (soccer mom, 1992)

I've spent the past 15 years teaching and coaching the kids known as Millennials. Some call them GenY.  I call them the "self esteem generation."  Millennials were raised by parents who showered them with praise and awarded them athletic trophies for just showing up. Their lives were over-programmed, their parents hovering.

Then they went to college.

How's it working out? Pretty well in my classrooms. Millennials, those born between '78 and '95, are bright and inquisitive. And most work their butts off. They respect their parents and listen to Led Zeppelin. What's not to love?

According to a presentation by some PR pros from CRT/Tanaka, the Millennials' lives were defined by tragedies like 9-11 and Colombine and profoundly influenced by the Internet, MTV and those well-intentioned "helicopter parents."

The presentation tells us that Millennials are the largest group entering the workforce today -- and the most impatient. They don't believe in "dues paying," thus the presentation's title, "I'll Take the Corner Office." Many in this group were latch-key kids, so they've had adult responsibilities since their early teens.

They'll feel ready to take on the world.

A few more tidbits from the CRT/Tanaka presentation (see link below):

Millennials...

  • define loyalty by what's challenging and interesting, rather than job security.
  • expect reward and recognition on a regular basis.
  • believe they are all "above average."
  • If you work with or manage Millennials, you're nodding your head about now. I learned back in the late 90s that praise goes a long way with this group. Pointed criticism does not. Millennials can be a sensitive lot. But that's no surprise. All their lives they've been rewarded for effort more so than results.

"But I don't understand how this is a 'C' paper. I worked really, really
hard on it."    (Kent State PR major, 1998-2010)



Tearful moments.

Just last week, three senior PR majors told me they cried after I returned their first assignment a few semesters back. They're all veterans now, accustomed to my semi-gruff coaching style. In a few years, they might actually appreciate it.

But what's most important to me -- and to the PR profession -- is producing students who can do the work and manage the stresses of our business.

My grading style is heavy-handed, and that's not gonna change. I typically spend 30-minutes evaluating a 6-7-page paper, circling every technical error and filling every margin with comments and suggestions. I may bruise a few egos, but students never have to guess what they've done wrong or how they can improve their work.

For some, it's the first time anyone has told them "this isn't good enough." Some rise to the challenge, others fold.

The knock-out punch.

In PR Case Studies, about 30% drop the class or fail it. Why? Mostly because of poor writing quality.
(ed.bold)  Case Studies is the "knock out" class for PR majors at Kent State, and unless you're a real star, you gotta learn to take a punch (figuratively speaking).

Some learn quickly that they're not "above average," at least in terms of writing or critical-thinking skills. But that's why you take the class, isn't it? These skills and aptitudes can be developed.

Those who accept coaching generally make it; those who don't find other communication-related majors that don't require complex writing or problem-solving. And yeah, such majors do exist. Don't get me started!

OK, maybe I'm not the most sensitive person.
 I expect a lot from students, and I don't coddle them. But even the old grizzly bear has made concessions to the Millennial ego. For instance, I no longer use the label "trainwreck" to describe the worst papers. I did with the GenXers, and they responded.

"I don't understand. I got As all my life -- especially in writing. Now you're telling me I don't write well?"       (tearful sophomore Millennial)

What can I tell ya, kid?
Your parents loved you, and they did their best. But they created a false reality. Everyone isn't above average in all they do. And in real life, only the winner gets the trophy.

It's important you understand this before we award that diploma, as there's a good chance your boss will be just like me. Scary thought, huh?

####

Bill Sledzik, a self-described "husband, father, educator, outdoorsman, and incurable smartass. On the job, I'm associate professor in the School of Journalism & Mass Communication at Kent State University where I teach courses in public relations, writing and ethics.  Before KSU, I spent 16 years as a PR professional, most of it with counseling firms."

Link to his blog, Tough Sledding, is here.  You may want to check out his recent interview with The Daily Dog where he talks more about his students' writing skills and reference points.   

Also on this post, Sledzik shares a presentation about the Millennials from the PR firm CRT/Tanaka entitiled  "I'll Take TheCornerOffice" from the PRSA (Public Relations Society Of America) San Diego Conference.  Of special note are slides 27 through 36, which show the best way to communicate to and with Millennials - ages 14-31, whether they are one of your students, co-workers, or teachers.  A comforting note to teachers:  students like face-to-face communication best, so take notice.

Post a Comment

If architecture is frozen music, then music must be liquid architecture.
architect Frank Gehry to music producer, Quincy Jones, from "a three sixty human being"

Passionate about our edu-nation?

RIFF it here

Follow The Daily Riff on Follow TDR on Twitter

find us on facebook

lifelab.learning.alankay.jpg

Life as a Learning Lab

CJW, 10.26.2010

" . . .we've spent hours and hours discussing how we can help students follow their interests and passions, and also help students learn powerful ideas and develop as systematic thinkers." Mitchell Resnick on Alan Kay, Squeak and Scratch

Read Post | Comments

Riffing good stories

Apple.johnsculley.jpg

John Sculley on Genius

CJW, 10.25.2010

Former CEO of Apple riffs about Steve Jobs, what makes the best innovators & the nature of genius in this essay tribute to mentor - his "Oxford Don" - Alan Kay

Read Post | Comments
Quincy-Jones.jpg

Quincy Jones: a three sixty human being

CJW, 10.25.2010

Legendary Quincy Jones riffs about music, technology, math, creativity and yes, even parenting in this essay tribute to friend Alan Kay

Read Post | Comments
global.tech.jpg

Myths & Opportunities: Technology - Part 2

CJW, 10.22.2010

By Alan November: Six Creative Ways Our Kids Can Become "Contributors"

Read Post | Comments
snail.effort.jpg

The Unintended Consequences of Grading "Effort"

CJW, 10.22.2010

"Even when I try really hard, I'm still dumb." Grading effort is a precarious endeavor that teachers need to think long and hard about before . . .

Read Post | Comments
Thumbnail image for nightmare.math.jpg

Kindergarten Test-Prep: Is Something Just a Little Strange Here?

CJW, 10.20.2010

Is test-prep ruining math education in America?
Check out the alternative "Math Salon" approach

Read Post | Comments
monkeysee.Jaymathews.Washingtonpost.jpg

Washington Post: Top High School Prevents Curiosity in Learning

CJW, 10.19.2010

"Is that the best way to encourage learning? Are we so stuck on managing classroom competition that we can't let students explore libraries, or the Internet, and make connections between the textbook and the real world?" --Jay Mathews, The Washington Post

Read Post | Comments
questions.jpg

The Daily Riff's "Person Of The Year" in Education

CJW, 10.19.2010

Larry Rosenstock wins because if more people knew about his successful schools, they would be clamoring for them in their own backyards. Watch: 15 spectacular minutes-

Read Post | Comments
robinson.jpg

Sir Ken Robinson "Changing the Education Paradigm" with New Video

CJW, 10.18.2010

The geographic ADHD map is a hoot, while the over-arching message and smug thinking in certain academic/thought-leader/politico circles is not . . .

Read Post | Comments

More Featured Posts