Friday, February 27, 2009

Generations and Learning Styles- and a Rant

So I spent some time viewing videos online concerning differences between Generations (X, Y, Boomer, etc.) Personally, the whole generations thing is often too overdone, not to minimize the differences between them, but sometimes it's all too trendy.
It is a useful tool to a degree. One thing I noticed was the relationship between childhood learning styles and the personality of a generation:

Gen Y: In school, these kids were taught through play and experimentation. (Educational toys, whole-word instead of phonics, etc.) They have become the generation that continues their growth and learning through experience and play. Thus the incessant multi-tasking, flipping back-and-forth, and desire for multimedia.

Gen X: In school, these kids were taught by the "Socratic method"- learn through asking questions. Their education focused on developing critical thinking skills in a distinct move away from simple memorization of facts. They have become the generation that continues their growth and learning through questioning and skepticism.

Boomers: In school, these people were taught through simple presentation of facts and memorization, requiring a high level of responsibility in study, both in effort and time. Responsibility and determination were keys to learning. They have become the generation that continued their development by plowing themselves into life's responsibilities and taking them seriously, often to the extreme.

Traditionalists: In school, these people were taught through rote in an authoritarian educational system, without so much of an emphasis on comprehension as with Boomers (think the 3R's- Reading, 'Riting & 'Rithmatic). While remembered as a much more unified and sacrificial generation, this was only possible because of trust. Questioning, play, and independent ambition took a backseat to one's place in society. They are the generation that continued their development and growth by supporting their families and other vital social institutions. Today, they are represented by the grandmother who worries about her grandkids and takes the time to catch up on what's happening throughout the family, providing support in numerous ways (babysitting, cooking, sending money, etc.)

It's all sort of academic to me until I get to the traditionalists. I am Gen X, and the traditionalists are my grandparents, and to an extent, my wife's grandparents, even though she is Gen Y. My mom and her sister have not been on speaking terms for years. All my grandparents wanted was for our family to come together. My wife's grandmother is always busy checking on her and her sister, always offering to help in any way she can. We need these people again. We need to become these people! If you read my blog you have heard me say over and over again we are a fragmented society.

Yeah I know, many of you will say they were racist. Many still are. Many, however, are not. What will it take for us to get back to that? Can we combine freedom of thought and action with selflessness and sense of obligation to society?

I suspect the children of Gen Y may be the ones to finally pull together again. It's hard to say, because it is going to take a crisis we have yet to encounter. The current economic crisis is merely an appetizer. The greed and human error that caused it are the result of our root problem- a fragmented, me-first, selfish, short-term thinking society.

In the meantime we would do best to put others ahead of ourselves. Put the good of society ahead of individual interests. Give a little more so others can have. Sounds socialistic? Well it is! Only the selfish complain about these things. Perhaps we can avert a greater crisis to come if we change ourselves and our country now.

Americans have not truly opened their hands and hearts to others for a long time. They have restricted their helping, not just for selfish reasons, but for ideological reasons. They become hypocrites of the rankest sort when speaking out against "socialist big government programs." Where were they when those segments of our society were falling and in need? Where were they when millions started losing health insurance? Where were they when our public schools began failing? Where were they? They did nothing to preempt government intervention so they have no right speak now. Let me tell you who "they" is. "They" are the leadership of the conservative right. "They" are the rich men, the fat cats, the CEOs, the only ones who truly profit from Republican emasculation of government through deregulation and unwise tax cuts. "They" are the ones who have convinced millions of Americans who are NOT served and actually HURT by their policies into siding with them over a "culture war."

You want to talk deficits? Behold the following chart:

Can you say "Republican?" Namely, Nixon/Ford, Reagan, Bush I, and Bush II.

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