Misunderstanding Gen-C

I had an interesting conversation with a bunch of people yesterday around Gen-C and the fact that because they are connected on so many planes it actually becomes increasingly difficult for them to learn in the traditional sense. This was followed up by listening to last week’s lecture about "learning about learning", and then when I got home I read the school newsletter where the principal of junior school was commenting on mobile phone use.

Let’s see… some of the thoughts I encountered…

"I have said before that during school hours I can see no reason for a Junior School student to require a mobile phone. However some parents feel more comfortable for children to carry one after school while travelling home. If this is the case, can you please remind children that phones stay in bags and switched off while in school."

"Having to listen to music, have IM windows open and be able to talk on the mobile, while producing quality homework? Well, what can we do to fix that problem?" (note the apparent need to "fix" a perceived "problem")

"I don’t agree that the work environment should be open, allowing people to use Facebook, Twitter and other socially aware applications – that isn’t productive." followed up by yet another desire to "fix" it.

It’s kinda like the inability for the audio-sequential, transmission-based teachers and adults of old not understanding visual-spatial, constructivist students, often shunting them off to the loser camp because they don’t flourish in a world that is conforming them to something that isn’t natural for them.

To be fair, some of the thoughts from the other point of view…

"It is now recognised that students will learn better, will grow in their personal knowledge of the subject matter if they approach it in a constructivist manner, which includes many things that we would previously have considered ‘cheating’ or ‘colluding’. Now we should be encouraging this kind of behaviour as it allows the students to create their own understanding rather than memorising rote learning for them to regurgitate later on."

"Twitter allows me to stay in contact with my spread out family in a way that email cannot. It’s a subscription model, not a push/pull model and so allows my communications to be consumed by those that are interested in them."

"I might not get the whole Gen-C thing myself, but I understand that others do work better in that way – who am I to stop them?"

So, what do we do? There are a small number of adults today that exhibit Gen-C behaviour. I suspect that there are actually more than those we can see, but they simply haven’t been immersed in the new connected world to "get" it. But there are a huge number of young people who are most definitely Gen-C – should we really be stopping them flourishing because their natural way of doing things goes against traditional views?

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3 Responses to Misunderstanding Gen-C

  1. Trish says:

    Reminds me of a blog post I wrote a while back – http://hogfish.net/?p=140 . Problem is, for every kid who\’s using their many different technologies and connections to help them learn, there\’s another one who\’s just blatantly slacking off. I guess the worry is that kids will only learn how to work collaboratively rather than independently, but in today\’s world that\’s probably not such a bad thing. Unfortunately at some point, many of these kids will have to learn how to memorise stuff and work on their own just so that they can sit entrance exams and university exams. So until the whole world changes, there will need to be a balance.

  2. Rog42 says:

     Love this post. I really relate to it.
    I actually recall an argument with my Mother-in-law back in the 90\’s before coming to Australia. I was working for Nokia at he time, so it was circa 95 or 96. She was railing on at the irrelevance and inequity of mobile phones. How there was no need for "anyone" to get one. I was trying to point out that companies like Nokia weren\’t at all concerned with her (generation), their business plan was aimed at the youth (then Gen-Y) and everyone on the planet would one day have a mobile phone.
    I actually hear the same complaints, arguments, debates etc from Digital Natives (or close to it) in Gen-X today about not \’getting\’ Facebook, or not joining Twitter. Simply put – you won\’t get it without trying. It may not be for you. But your kids breathe this stuff, and if you want to talk to them, then you need to speak (& listen) in their language.

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