August 28, 2019
A month before, I communicated with Sr Hildegard S.R.A, former principal of Milagres English Medium School, Kallianpur Udupi, who was always a firm teacher also very kind at heart. During her casual interaction with me she mentioned about the care, respect, loyalty, obedience of her former students who are spread all over the globe. Even today the same sentiment persists in her students for a special teacher who held their hands and guided them in their infancy. She reminiscences about her teaching career and the punishment she meted out to her students who were taking it so positively though small in age. Unfortunately with the change in time, children today tend to be negative and pessimistic with scant respect to the elders parents as well as teachers. After conversing with her I just wondered what made her talk about her students of the past and the situation today. Is it merely the change in society or differences of opinion?
In the modern world, we perceive a big gap in thinking attitudes and behavior between the young and the old, between youth, parents and grandparents. In simple words, there is a huge gap in understanding between different generations because of change in circumstances, lifestyle and cultural factors.
Generations are generally divided in to three phases - childhood, middle age and old age, each having their own set of characteristics, thoughts and views. The primary focus of this article is to highlight the difference between Gen X, Gen Y and Gen Z. The pioneering theory of generations say that Gen X (13th generation) and Gen Y (millennial generation) each have the traits of their corresponding generational archetypes. Generation X is generally used to refer to people born in the 60s and 70s. They, known as Baby boomers, are associated with a redefinition of traditional values. The boomers tend to think of themselves as a special generation, very different from preceding and subsequent generations. Millennials (Gen Y) are currently aged between 20-35 years, or born between 80s and 90s (with more generous definitions counting those born up to 2000). Gen X are known for being nihilistic and cynical which is very understandable considering the fact that they aged just in time to experience the Cold War. The emphasis here is based on Generation Y or the Millennials, who are referred to as ‘Echo boomers’, born in or after the 1980s and entered the labour market approximately in 2000s and after. They are more educated compared to the earlier generations, highly competent users of information and communication technology (ICTs) and accustomed to the world of social media. Gen Z, born from 1995 to 2015, is the newest generation to be named. They have been exposed to an unprecedented amount of technology in their upbringing. As technology became more compact and affordable, the popularity of smartphones, ‘digital bond to the Internet', made generation Z too smart.
Education in the past was very constructive and skill based and students were craving for knowledge. Today education is a business, creativity almost non-existent. Students get easy information from all sources of media and technology. The beautiful technique of essay writing and grammar is replaced by objective type questions which are mostly guess work. Here the teacher’s role is to train the student on hand-on training on the basis of the problems they are likely to encounter in the real world. The graduate students face many problems in their carrier because of insufficient cognitive, affective and psychomotor skills in learning.
In school, some teachers face many problems because of generation gap, especially with generation Z. The coexistence of the student body corresponding to the Z Generation, currently at the primary education stage have digital bond to the internet a characteristic of this generation. Students have high expectations based on technology and they develop independent or autodidactic way of learning. They are fortunate to have real and effective inclusion of digital skills in the School curriculum. The teacher has to understand the need for digital and media literacy in the student body which is exposed to electronic devices and should acquire digital skills to utilize variety of technologies in curriculum in effective manner. Teachers must promote mentoring as it is a great way to connect talent pool of the students through one-to-one communication and instant feedback and inputs on a regular basis.
Today the wider generation gap is due to different mindsets, different attitudes and reasoning. It may lead to frustrating lack of communication between young and old or a useful stretch of time that separates cultures within a society, allowing them to develop their own character. The effects of generation gap include conflict and misunderstanding among family members of different generations. As we all know each generation struggles to establish its own unique identity among the group or in society. Extremity in generation gap therefore gives the impression that the old and the young live in different worlds without compromising on any issue. In order to minimize the generation gap, elders should adopt a more caring approach towards the youngsters and understand their various emotions, aspirations and problems.
The children as well as the youth should realize that they have less experience of life than the aged. They should, therefore, value the advice of their elders. If the youth have any difference of opinion, they should put across their views before the elders in a very polite and respectful manner and clear conflicts by mutual understanding and support. Present day, parents as well as children face major problems in balancing the generation gap. A certain kind of counselling or therapy is required to manage such a situation. Some changes required to resolve such issues include mutual respect, understanding and the willingness to accept certain differences between them. The counselling process will help all generations to understand the sense of self by identifying the strength and weakness of the individual and cope up with the situation.
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