I’ve been thinking about this a lot lately. We have five generation titles currently living and influencing America. The first is “The Greatest Generation” (born between 1927-1945), then “The Baby Boomers” (1946-1964), “Generation X” (1965-1980), “Generation Y” or “The Millennium Generation” (1981-2001), and “Generation Z” (born after 2001). What will Generation Z, educated under Common Core and No Child Left Behind become? The expectations put on these students have never been higher. Is this causing long-term damage though? If the current curriculum trends continue with Common Core and high-risk tests, I would say the graduating classes of 2018 to 2029 will have severe problems in their adult lives.
Generation Z was born in the aftermath of 9/11. As a country, we became very suspicious of everything around us and demanded immediate change. We would not, and could not, let an attack like 9/11 ever happen again. So we set out to fix things. Under the wings of the Baby Boomers, Generation X went to work. They gained more and more power, until eventually they were the ones in control. When they got their hands on education, they dismantled it and tried to put it back together again.
Common Core Standards as a theory is not my problem. I don’t have an issue with every state being compatible with each other in terms of what is taught to our country’s children. As a special education advocate, I see a multitude of differences in special education within single school districts in Delaware. So I can only imagine how the US Government would look at education at a national level. It has to be very confusing, and having something more uniform across every state is certainly something to be desired.
My problems are with how it was brought about, how it was implemented, and the extra parts that are taught to children that are really unnecessary. I posted a math problem on this blog a couple weeks ago, with the Common Core seal of approval on the worksheet. It was my biggest story ever. But the reality was that I was just a pissed-off parent seeing the “rigor” my son was going through with this type of math. Tens of thousands of readers read this story, and most parents thought it was absolutely ridiculous. Teachers seemed split down the middle. Some thought it was acceptable math, while others thought it was confusing to students and was not age appropriate. These children are taught things a certain way, and it should not be like that. I come from a generation where the answer is the answer, it doesn’t matter how you came to it. But today, everything has to be explained and to show your work and to think outside the box no matter what shape it is. Sometimes an answer is just an answer.
Our current leaders, who are most likely part of the Generation X crowd (a group I belong to), see things a bit differently. We were a different kind of generation compared to the earlier ones. We were very focused on trends and we were at the dawn of the computer age. We were stuck in an industrial transition with education. Things changed rapidly with education from 1975 to 1995. I graduated high school in 1988. The internet was just starting to be mentioned as some type of database where students would be able to go to libraries and access information right off a computer.
My son, born in 2004, can find out anything on the internet by going to Google and typing it in. My son also can become very fixated on his iPad, iPod, X-Box, and the many brands of toys his generation is surrounded by, especially Legos. He can watch anything from tv at any hour of the day, from anywhere he wants as long as there is wi-fi access. This generation has technological advances previous generations couldn’t even dream about. So why are we trying to make them all the same type of student? Why do so many members of my generation who have gained power want today’s youth to be one big collective entity, and not the individuals they truly are? I don’t get it. Is it because when we were young we did what we wanted? We were a very cynical generation. We started to lose trust with the organizations and groups that served us, from a local level to an international one. We became more self-absorbed, more insular to the events of the world. It almost seems like this ruling generation doesn’t want the youth of today to question anything. They just need to follow orders.
The problem with this is Generation Z. They are a hearty and tough lot, and are used to getting their own way. They are also a generation with the highest amount of disabilities and disorders. They will not take crap, and do not like being told to be the same as anyone else. They do need structure and routine, nobody will deny that, but they also don’t want to be put in the same sandbox as everyone else.
But there is a subset of Generation X that has learned how to rise above the trappings of our generation. We are helping to guide Generation Y to rise against Generation X. We are speaking, and we are speaking with every bit of strength we can muster against members of our own generation. Because we want to help Generation Z become more than what they are destined to become if these current education reforms continue. And we need Generation Y to lead them out of this quagmire we call modern education.
Each generation helps to guide the ones before them, and the results are cultural mind-shifts where the greatest inventions and the most horrible events can take place in society. Never before in history have so many generations been alive, influencing and shaping all the others. I can imagine our ancestors looking down on us thinking “what a mess” America has become.