For Mississippi schools, students and teachers have been out of school for about two weeks. Since that time, I have had the time to reflect on this past school. My mind ventured to teacher performance, state testing, parental involvement, school culture, events, and activities. My thoughts about this school year kept returning to an interesting topic. Defining this generation of kids. So here’s my question. What is up with this generation of kids we are teaching at our middle school? These kids are engulfed with themselves, get wrap up with entertaining themselves or others, and they believe that things should come easy to them, really given to them. I call this group of middle schoolers the “E Generation.” To me, the E generaton is about being egocentric, seeking entertainment, and wanting entitlements.
Here's another question. What is the most popular activity for kids to do with their smart phone? Texting, no. Google searches, no. Taking pictures of the themselves, yes. This generation is emersed with taking "selfies." These kids want to capture not only the moment, but capture the moment with them taking front stage. I have nothing against taking selfie's. My wife takes selfies, makes comments about the face, and posts to snapchat. Snapchat is the thing my middle schoolers are using to talk to their friends. They communicate by taking selfes, making comments, and sending it into the cloud. Call it another option for them to talk with each other. In my personal opinion, I wish this generation would stop making it all about them. Rather, I want this group to recognize the people around them and add value to their lives. Adding value to others first and focusing the moment on a "we" experience instead of "me," we will make this world a better place.
When I hear the word entertainment, I think of tv channels like entertainment weekly, e-news, and A&E network. If you get a chance to visit the channel, stop and watch a show for five minutes. Quickly, you would see that tv shows have designed their line-up to focus and expose a person of social interest. Usually, the programmers give the TV viewers mess. Our kids are looking for "mess" too. What's mess? I learned that word this year while deescalating girl drama during the school day. Mess is talking about someone, slandering their name, and/or filling false ideas about someone else to another person. Mess creates a show, and our students want nothing else than to see a show from other students. This type of entertainment breeds negativity and unhealthy conversations. However, this generation of students depend on it to ge through the day. Learning how to pickup on these negative vibes, defusing them, and providing another talking point will help our kids see that "mess" is truly unnessecary and not what good entertainment is about.
Lastly, these kiddos want things given to them. They don't value honest, hard work. They was immediate gratification. Entitlement will only get worse if we don't step up, identify and solve this problem. Bill O'Reiley from Fox News made this statement about entitlements. "Entitlement is eroding our well being. Self sufficient stronger. Dependent weaker. Former president Ronald Reagan once said that "the best social program is a job." We, teachers and parents, need to instill in this generation to be independent, work hard in school or in a career, and earn a decent return on investing in a job.
The picture says that our kids we teach are in Gen Y. Some authors have coded this group of kids we teach as the iY generation where kids are ingulfed with the latest "i" gadget. I want to stress and suggest that we do our research and become reflective on this Gen E. Don't allow these kids to profess egocentrism, to watch useless entertaining junk, and to rely on hand outs. We must focus on what really matters in life. To me, what really matters in life is adding value to others, not yourself, spending your time on quality entertaining material, and working in a society where honest, hard work is valuable.