Sometimes I get tired of the generalizations about generations. I was reading the Chicago Tribune when I came across this article about the dumbing down of Americans, especially young Americans. As I’ve mentioned before in my blogs, I’m part of the “infamous” Generation Y, and honestly I don’t like being referred to as dumb. Maybe it’s my competitive spirit that was spurred by growing up in an older brother’s straight-A shadow. Nonetheless, to take a whole age group and classify them as dumb seems a bit well, dumb, don’t you think?!@!
To me, it’s interesting that people see younger Americans as being dumb, but they don’t ever think to look at the system that’s educating them. Mark Bauerlein, an Emory University English professor quoted in the article, attributes falling test scores to “new habits of [the] mind to absorb information by the byte-size, warp-speed, quick-hit and visually eye-popping standards of the Internet.” Well, what’s byte-size, warp-speed, quick-hitting or eye-popping about today’s traditional classroom, or for that matter, your corporate learning?
For a start, don’t assume that young workers are dumb. They may just learn differently. And everyone in one generation is not formed from the same mold. As a result, organizations should provide learning that covers the spectrum (not just e-learning and classroom training). That way, each employee can identify with at least one modality, regardless of what generation they might fall into.
Additionally, the article states that younger workers coming into the workforce don’t have the critical and the creative thinking skills required. If true, that means the learning organization needs to pick up the slack from high schools and universities and develop these skills. Obviously, what didn’t work for this group in high school and college isn’t going to suddenly work when they get into the workplace.
What are your thoughts about Generation Y’s learning habits, real or perceived? Let us know.
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