In Teaching the Millennials

Post date: Oct 18, 2016 3:12:28 AM


Educators nowadays are faced with new challenge: teaching “millennials”.

Millennials are generation of children who were born during a time in history when technology was developing rapidly. They are “digital natives” that make use of gadgets, such as cellphones, computers and tablets, with ease and can navigate the internet with comfort and familiarity. They are very lucky – as information and knowledge reach them quickly – and yet despite all the benefits that they enjoy, they are characterized with several difficult flaws.

Millennials have been described as entitled. Entitlement is a state of being where an individual believes that they, without having to exert hard work, deserve the privileges of society. In school, this is when students behave in a manner where they feel that their teachers have to pass them in their subjects, no matter their performance. This is carried forward to advanced stages, where some believe that they deserve to be given work, high salaries, without earning the right experiences and putting in the hours of work and discipline. This is rooted in a specialized psychological narcisistic problem termed as the “special snowflake syndrome”. Its etymology is from how each snowflake has a unique shape compared to the other, making each individual special.

When applied to humans, and millennials, this is when a child believes that he or she is innately special. Although this may be true, as educators we know that a child has to exert effort, apply self-discipline, in order to make his or her “specialness” manifest. Without hard work, the child will fall into mediocrity. The concept of hard work is lost in majority of millennials, as they are used to having all the information they need at their fingertips. Teaching science to millennials have proven challenging. Classical methods of teaching science rely heavily on memory and critical thinking. Memory is enhanced by the regular practice of memorization.

Millennials are adverse to the practice of memorization, as they can call up information quickly by just searching the internet. Memorization, however, helps in quick analysis of situations, and is very much needed in professions such as medicine, law, and even education. Critical thinking is also lost with millennials. Before, critical thinking is heavily practiced when analyzing problems and situations. People had to rely on their own logic because resources were scarce. Nowadays, when millennials encounter a problem all they need to do is, again, ask the internet, watch some tutorial videos, and their problems are solved. So when confronted with problem solving and essay questions in the classroom, they falter and they fail. As educators, however, it is our duty to find ways to better teach millenials.

There are several ways in which we can do this:

1. Speak their language. For them to listen, we must learn to speak their language. We can do this by trying to navigate the world of social media that they so often frequent. This does not mean that we have to be Facebook friends with them, or to follow them all in Instagram. Instead, we familiarize ourselves in how information is shared in this media. We can cut up our lessons into small digestible tidbits that they can share with each other, just like in the Memes that go viral. We can use the same acronyms that they often use to communicate with each other. We can discuss in pictures, and not just words. There are so many methods and techniques we can learn and use.

2. Encourage collaboration. The internet has allowed for quicker communication and collaboration among classmates. By encouraging collaboration, we can encourage our students to communicate not just through the internet, but personally as well. Create projects or homeworks where groupmates have to meet up to do something. Encourage the use of recycled materials, instead of them just printing out a report. Ask them to view or document real places near or in the school rather than just research about something they cannot see or touch in real time.

3. Develop unique, personalized problems to solve. To encourage them to be participative in their own communities, we must create lessons that are important to their families, their barangays, their cities and their country. Through this, they can use information they see online and yet also be more aware of what is happening in their immediate vicinity. They must be inspired to not limit their socialization to the virtual world but participate actively in the real one.

Millennials are a difficult challenge to teach. But they are the future of our society. Let us not be frustrated with their limitations and instead do our best to communicate with them.