In 5 Years, THEY will be Your Challenge.

They who?

The typical student in high school today.

In 5 years, the student graduating from high school today, will likely be done their college or university and be approaching you for work.

"So, why is that a problem?  I've been hiring people for years." you say.

"Because." I reply, "The typical student today is not the typical student you remember".

Educators are currently faced with significant challenges in engaging today's students.  While there have always been differences between adults and the youth in outlook, opinion and culture, the gap has never been as wide as it is today.

Our kids (and as the parent of a 16 year old, I do speak with a bit of knowledge) live in a different culture.  From their earliest memory, the Internet has existed, phones were mobile, music was downloaded, and interacting online is a way of life.  Even Facebook, which was launched in 2004 has been around as long as many of them can remember.

What we call "technology", our kids call "normal".  It is not some mysterious thing, it is woven into their culture.  Even those of us who are considered "tech savvy" are considered rank amateurs in how the technology is applied.

The kids understand the concept of using technology.  Where we would learn how to use Photoshop, or Windows Live Movie Maker, or Flikr, or YouTube, our kids start with "Let's make a video and post it!"  They have the outcome in mind.

They also have a much higher need for immediate feedback.  That's what you get with years of video games.  You do something, and you are provided feedback.  Sometimes you fail, but you just start over.  You learn from your failures. This translates to the classroom.  When students do a task, they expect the results immediately.

Why are they so adept at using the tools? (Please note I am not saying competent with technology, they are not techies.)  They are surrounded by it.

The Kaiser Family Foundation published the results of a comprehensive study in 2010 on the Media exposure of kids 8-18 years old. The summary (found here) indicates that:
"Today, 8-18 year-olds devote an average of 7 hours and 38 minutes (7:38) to using entertainment media across a typical day (more than 53 hours a week).  And because they spend so much of that time ‘media multitasking’ (using more than one medium at a time), they actually manage to pack a total of 10 hours and 45 minutes (10:45) worth of media content into those 7½ hours."
By the way... that 10:45 hours of media exposure (did I mention DAILY) did not include texting, which was estimated at 1:35 hours a day.

This is not a value judgment (although many of you are making one right now), but a statement of the world our kids live in.

We ask them to come into the classroom and disengage from their culture and connections, and expect them to sit still and pay attention.  Is there any wonder why so many kids are conveniently diagnosed as ADHD?

This is the group of kids that are challenging the way educators teach and engage.

In 5 years, we ship them to you.

Are you ready?

The full report (Generation M2: Media in the Lives of 8- to 18-Year-Olds) is available here.


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