Growing Leaders founder and President Tim Elmore describes people born between 1990 and 2002 as Generation iY, a generation filled with people who have grown up with technology and who learn through images.
He says parenting and students’ lifestyles have evolved over the past 30 years, and to better educate this generation, teaching needs to evolve to fit the personality of these students.
Elmore was a keynote speaker at the Practitioners’ Conference on Wednesday at Baker University. The two-day conference focuses on teaching and other trends in the classroom. His keynote speech and his breakout presentation concentrated on the technology-savvy group of students and how to teach in an engaging and successful way.
Ann Sanders, Baker University associate professor of education, helped to organize the conference, and thought Elmore’s speech on current generations would be helpful to staff development.
“If we know how (students) see the world, we can design (engaging) lessons,” Sanders said.
What is Generation iY?
“Generation iY ... describes the new world these kids have grown up in — the iWorld, the Internet world,” Elmore said.
Generation iY’s world is made up of eight main factors that contribute and create this new student: parental control, technology, affirmation, expectations, schedule structure, feedback, uploading and stress.
A disengaged or over-engaged parent contributes to the student’s lack of self-responsibility, Elmore said. Technology is a central part of the students’ lives, and they are constantly surrounded by new devices and information.
These students are constantly looking for affirmation. They are what Elmore describes as upload-available, meaning they’re conditioned to share thoughts with others through tweets and statuses.
These students also experience a rising, and in many cases overwhelming, amount of stress, which is caused by a fear of failure, he said.
Elmore said much of Generation iY has high arrogance and low self-esteem, and in order to turn the generation into successful students and leaders, parents and educators must learn to not push students but pull them forward by figuring out what these students need and how to cater to those needs in a relevant way.
Elmore uses the acronym EPIC to describe the ways in which the group learns: experiential, participatory, image rich and connected.
“The more EPIC you are, the better chances you have of getting your message across,” Elmore said.
The teachers in the audience were advised to pinpoint needs and cater to each individual student rather than treating every child the same. He compared the classroom to a game of checkers, where the pieces are the same, to chess, where the players must learn how each piece works.
“Great teachers have learned to play chess with the people in their lives,” Elmore said.
How parents can help
Elmore said that the best way for parents to help their iY Generation child succeed is to collaborate with teachers. Instead of defending their child’s behavior or grades, parents should ask educators how they can help their child to improve.
Introducing children to adults helps prepare those children for the future. Rather than feeling uncomfortable and awkward when the time comes for them to talk with adults, they will be confident and create relationships.
Elmore said what could be the most important way to help children is to match face time with screen time.
Letting the child lose or fail in some way can also help to, in the long run, put a child on the path to success.
“Let them fail, and let them experience consequences,” Elmore said. “They need to go through hurt to be able to grow past it.”