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Snapshots icon the last word

“Son, I don’t understand these grades… tell me what the problem is at school.”

“Mom, I’m bored. The teacher reads from the book and the period is 90 minutes long and I’m bored. I just try to stay awake.”

This is a simple conversation I have had at various times with both of my sons. I think of the five years I spent teaching elementary school in the early 70s and dealing with this same issue. How do we keep our children engaged in the learning process?

This is the information age. Computers are in every home and certainly in every school. Information is a keystroke away. Yet, are we losing bright children in the public and private school systems because the teachers, who are my age, are not used to the technology or are not able to modify it for this generation of Nintendo, Play Station and Game Boy masters?

I have also taught courses on the collegiate level and guess what? Students at this level say the same things – “I’m bored.” “I don’t like the teacher.” “Why do I have to learn this? I’m never going to use it for anything.”

Generation Y for Dummies“Let me entertain you!” This is the generation we are trying desperately to understand.

Reality TV, drama, drama, drama…our kids are addicts for this stuff. The video stream keeps all of our lives under glass and glare. “Survivor” is another symptom of doing it so everyone can see what it takes to “win.” “How to Marry a Millionaire” reinforces the wrong values that bank accounts equal worth.

Is my son typical of his generation? Have you tried talking with children in this age group? First, e-mail has just about eliminated the English language, as I know it. When I do read the messages he is sending and receiving I can’t even pretend not to read it because it takes me so long to decipher the message I end up staring at the monitor. So I always get caught. He, of course, knows how to minimize the box because no matter how hard I try to tip toe he knows I’m coming.

My favorite snapshot of talking to kids now is the commercial for cell phones where the guy brings home a monkey with a cold instead of a movie that’s not old. This is what it feels like when we try to communicate. My son of course tells me I have the hearing problem.

This generation is no different than the ones you and I belong to. They have more technology and are generally brighter in their own element than in ours. I happen to really enjoy my own children and most of everyone else’s. They keep me young and alert and I do trust my future and future of the universe to them. We just have to keep up with them.

Someone please develop a course called “Keeping Parents on Track: Keeping Up with the Jones’, the Kids and Computer Technology.” Or how about one of those books… “Generation Y for Dummies.”

– Dr. Michelle Daniels is vice president for student affairs/dean of students and the mother of a “Gen Y” son.

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