Generation Z and the Millennials: They Aren’t a Band
As an educator, my life has been devoted to educating our youth. Since I was five, I have either been a students or teacher (with the exception for a one year break when I was 23…I got married). As a student I evolved from a classic, distracted underachiever to a doctoral student with a 3.97. As a teacher I have taught everything from English as a Second Language in a native school in the Republic of the Marshall Islands to Career Research to Advanced Placement Language and Composition. As a faculty member at two different universities I have taught students from anywhere from their first year to teacher certification classes to graduate curriculum classes to doctoral classes on learning theory. Over the course of my career, I have learned one thing. Students are amazing.
There is much public consternation over the youngest generations—Generation Z and the Millennials. Both of these generations have been characterized as being needy, entitled, having short attention spans, and without focus. Well, that is the media argument. That is an excuse.
The Millennials, perhaps the most criticized generation by the media is been maligned for seeming indifference and entitlement. But, where does the fault lie? This generation grew up during a time of great prosperity. There was lots of money. Technology was exploding. America was on top. The Soviet Union fell. They grew up with many advantages. Yet, now we blame them for having high expectations. But, this generation now has their own children and see this world as needing change. Their children are in our schools. They are now settled into life. They have the ability to multi-task, are tech-savvy, are creative problem-solvers, are driven, and are socially conscious.
Generation Z, those born from 1995 on, are independent, have only lived with technology, are adaptable, and are global citizens. In addition, based on my experience, they are socially conscious and are incredibly open in celebrating all people. There are few preconceived notions about people and want to get to know people for who they are, not how they are labeled.
So, what is the point? Why focus on these groups?
On March 24, I attended the CSRA March for Our Lives march and rally. This was organized by four young women, high school students, as their way of saying, “This is enough!” This does not seem like a disenfranchised generation. This does not seem to be a group that is needy. This does not seem like a group with a short attention span. In fact, it is just the opposite. This protest, organized by Generation Z and attended by both, shows the power that these groups have. They are tired of the world they were given and are screaming out for change.
In Changes, David Bowie sang, “And these children that you spit on as they try to change their worlds, are immune to your consultations, they’re quite aware of what they are going through.” These young people, Generation Z and the Millennials, are quite aware of what they are going through. They see the cynicism, the conflict, the intolerance, the violence, the broken government, the fracturing American psyche. However, the country is ripe for change and these are the changers. No longer will they rely on older generations to do things for them. They are going to take control of their future and make a change for the better.
And they are voters. And they will vote.
So, Generation Z and Millennials, you have a chance to make a difference. Go out in droves and vote. Don’t let apathy and indifference be the status quo.
You will make a difference.
My name is Andrew Kemp. I am an candidate for the School Board of Columbia County, District 3.
With the exception of a year, I have been a teacher or a student for my entire life. I have taught on many different levels. I have been a middle school teacher (okay, for one semester for student teaching...because of this, I have a profound respect for middle school teachers), high school, undergraduates and graduate students. I have coached soccer in youth leagues and high school. Education is in my blood.