Literacy doesn’t just refer to be ability to read anymore. It refers to the ability to understand and communicate through various mediums, such as: email, phone, blogs, texts, tweets etc. Having an understanding on how something works is possibly more important than actually being able to do the work yourself. Understanding where we are means understanding where we came from, looking through a capsule of time between generations and what was needed in each education system and how instill it.
Baby Boomers: those born between 1944 and 1964. Have watched the entire world evolve from having a close group of friends you play with and having a tight close knit community around you to people not even knowing their neighbors’ names. It’s got to be a bit dis-satisfying to see the impersonalization happen to your world and community. Skeptical of technology and while they may use it, they do not typically use it to its full capabilities.
Gen X: those born between 1965 and 1979. Still grew up without borders, being able to run free during summer months and study hard while school was in session, the last age of oblivious innocence. Are accepting and skeptical of technology.
Gen Y, aka Millennials: those born between 1980 and 1995. Grew up with the expansion of the internet and connectivity. They saw technological evolution from the start and watched it develop over the years. They still remember how to use ‘old school’ technology like fax machines and dot matrix printers. They generally accept technology and use it.
Gen Z: anyone born after 1995. These people are growing up without the privilege of anonymity. They believe everything should be instant and are confused by the idea of having to research something. Patience is a hard fought virtue that is hard to understand in a world of instant gratification of just about everything, but hard work! They fully accept technology just as they accept the air around them.
Education by Generation
Baby Boomers education was better than their parents and being able to do better than your parents was the goal. More people graduated high school and sought post high school education than ever before. Colleges and Universities grew because of it. The learning style however did not. It was respecting your teacher or professor, do not question them, learn, pass, graduate and get a job. There were obviously some who challenged the system, but they were likely shunned and or kicked out of school for radical ideas.
Gen X’s education was the beginning of the transformation. More people from this generation challenged the status quo of their very existence in the educational system. Meaning they fought for changes beyond what the previous generations had done. They went from using typewriters to computers and embraced the changes set before them. They were more fiercely independent than their parents before them.
Gen Y’s education is the highest among all generational groups. Their worldwide knowledge is greater than any other generation. However, this global knowledge comes global competition.
Gen Z’s educational preferences are already showing new trends, as noted in Forbes magazine, this generation is beginning to take college classes and they aren’t interested in sitting through lectures and just memorizing dates and phrases. They want an immersion of their education, something hands on, where they can communicate and contribute to a group and learn via experiencing versus reading and taking tests.
Skill Sets for the Modern World
Beyond the basic math, science and history, one must learn to progress through the education system, it’s becoming more apparent that more exposure is needed when it comes to technology. Not just using technology but understanding how it works and how to create new technology. Understanding programming or coding is easier the earlier you learn it. If you use any type of technology, you are using a program. The science behind the simple user interface isn’t as complicated at you may think. Understanding that the world is dynamic and being able to constantly adapt is a crucial skill for anyone entering the workforce.
The most generic form of people know of and hear about is that programming is a bunch of 0’s and 1’s that create a code to tell computers what to do, but it’s much simpler than trying to read 0010 0110 1100. It is a simple algorithm of logic or yes or no questions and answers. Every program out there starts out with a basic question followed by essentially a yes or true response or a no or false response. Everything in coding builds off of those two very simple things. Understanding logic is key to understand programming.
Gen Z is changing and challenging the education system as we know it. They are learning common core math, which is an insane concept if you learned the ‘old school’ way. Yet they are learning better in immersion into an activity vs listening to a lecture. While parents and teachers are canvassing for smaller class sizes, they are also fighting to teach beyond the standardized test requirements. These students grew up with immediate access to information that used to only be available after sifting through books and research papers in libraries, and they know they do not have to memorize everything in order to perform tasks.
Changing Play - Changing Learning
With the ever changing world around us, understanding how simple programming works is imperative to understanding how to communicate. Pushing to have more technology in classes such as coding available at an early age is crucial helping kids of today succeed. They learn the basics of programing which helps them learn because they can start and customize for their personal learning level. It does not have to reflect their age, but their level of comfort with technology. Gen Z kids are just comfortable with technology, it just happens. They are not afraid of it, they do not think they will break it and because of this, it is a great way to engage them in learning.
Kids of yesteryear used to have to go out and find someone to play with, however Gen Z kids can log on and play with friends anywhere in the world. Giving them a larger social network to choose from. They are not locked into playing with whoever lived on the same street as we were. Giving them an opportunity for exposure to different cultures and different countries around the world when they have one thing in common, like an online game.
Schools today not only utilize computers, but some even issue computers and or laptops to all students. This ensures that all the students all have the same learning platform, giving students the same technology basis to start from. Having technology like this means they can engage the students more so than just lecturing students on how to do something, they can work in a virtual sandbox where they can actually do the things they are learning about.
The greater understanding students have of technology, presumably programming, they understand how to make things work and how things have worked in the past. Teaching in a virtual sandbox allows kids to learn that making mistakes isn’t the end of the world and sometimes it can lead to a bigger learning experience, most adults today still have yet to learn this vital life lesson.
Each generation has made an impact on education. The Boomers grew the post high school institutions to the large communities they are today. Gen X began to challenge the ‘system.’ Gen Y experienced the change of instant information and Gen Z is having a greater impact in decisions about ‘how’ they learn.
Each generation has been the more educated than the last. We’ve learned that embracing technology and understanding how it works has more than benefits than just learning how to ‘code.’ Each generations ability has enabled the next for growth and progress. Learning how to engage with the virtual world is just as important as learning how to engage with the community around you.