Friday, April 15, 2011

Generation Z could be the key to driving change in an outdated educational system

Career advice guru Penelope Trunk explains that baby boomers changed politics, Gen X changed family, Gen Y changed work, and she predicts that Generation Z, born between 1995 and 2010 will change education. Below are some of the trends Trunk predicts for this generation of students.  

Home Education will go mainstream creating a more self-directed workforce.
Trunk says what many parents, educators, and students already know but often don’t say out loud. The public education in the United States is largely terrible. While there are pockets that are exceptional, because of our new data (not passion) driven culture in education, they are rarely public. She explains that we have an education crisis on our hands but Baby Boomers were too scared to solve the crisis with home educating noting that doing so takes hem out of the typical ways to measure how well kids are doing in the competition. She explains because they wanted to work full-time and because they couldn’t handle removing their kids from the competition instead they got kids tons of tutoring and extra help after school.

Trunk explains that because Gen X is more comfortable working outside the system than Baby Boomers the Gen X women are fine quitting their jobs to take care of their kids. She says that  home education among Gen X parents is becoming more mainstream for parents who know public schools are broken and don’t have $20,000 a year for private school.

  • Implication:
    Gen Zers will be able to figure out what they want to do with their life

    The growing number of home educated kids who grew up with a largely self-learning, self-directed model will be more accustomed to figuring out what they like to do, and doing it on their own. Unlike previous generations, the
    crisis to figure out what to do with one’s life will not last so long because they know how to learn on their own.  

Alternative education children will be better prepared in life than traditionally schooled
Gen Y has been vocal about being mad as hell that they were duped into believing school then college would prepare them for work.  They did everything they were told and it didn’t help them get a job and we now have a national crisis because Gen Y is now also known as “Generation Debt” as a result of the huge debt from college and little ability to pay it back.

Trunk explains that children whose parents have provided alternative schooling option will be better prepared for careers.  She explains that because of the emphasis on independent investigation, Generation Z will be the first group of knowledge workers who were trained to do their job before they started working.  For example, Generation Z will be great at synthesizing information because they will have been doing that—rather than memorizing—the whole time they were in school.

  • Implication:
    Gen Z will have no problem directing their careers and keeping up with change

    Those who have not been traditionally schooled (where they are dependent on adults to know what to do now and what to do next), will know how to figure out what skill to learn next, and they will have more self-discipline to do it on their own.

    Trunk explains that when Gen Z enters the workforce, the older people, Gen X and Gen Y, will work to live, not live to work. This will be something Gen X and Gen Y fought hard for. To Gen Z it will be easy to do and self-learning will take center stage in their work day. So, as qualifications for the workplace will rapidly change and older people who don't keep up will be outdated, it will be Generation Z that is best at keeping up. Not because they are young, but because they understand that
    unschooling is not a movement for kids, but a way to live a life, and it doesn’t stop when you start getting a paycheck.

College degrees will become less popular. Entrepreneurship will rule.
Trunk believes the The home education movement will prepare Generation Y to skip college, and like Will Richardson who writes eloquently on why his kids don’t have to go to college, Gen X is out-of-the-box enough in their parenting to support that.

I’ve shared my frustration both here on The Innovative Educator blog and in The Huffington Post around a goal of education being “College AND Career” readiness.  College is just not worth the cost and is unnecessary for many careers today.  Trunk sites Zac Bissonnette's book Debt-Free U  where he explains why no one should go into debt for college. It’s just not worth it. He says, even if your parents have the money to pay for college, use it for something better—like buying yourself a franchise and learning something that’ll really help you establish yourself in the adult world.

She explains that Baby Boomers are too competitive to risk pulling the college rug out from under their kids. And Gen Y are rule followers—if adults tell them to go to college, they will go.  Gen X is very practical and is also the first generation in American history to have less money than their parents. So it makes sense that Gen X would be the generation to tell their kids to forget about college.

Predictions for Generation Z in the workforce
When they reach the workforce, for those Gen Zers who’ve escaped traditional public schooling,  Trunk predicts they will:
  • Not be team players.
    • They will actually be able to get things accomplished at work without needing a team meeting about it!
  • Be more self-directed.
    • Unlike the good-student rule-followers of the Gen Yers, they will be able to figure stuff out for themselves.
  • Process information at lightning speed.
    • Their brains will be wired to deal more efficiently with more information.
  • Be smarter.
For the full articles visit Generation Z will revolutionize education and What Generation Z will be like at work

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