Generation Z will revolutionize education
My kids are Generation Z, born between 1995 and 2010. And I wonder: what can we see in those kids now that can tell us what they’ll be like later, at work?
As a history student in college (history of political thought, for all you fans of the Republic) and still an obsessive researcher of generational demographic trends (everyone should start with Strauss & Howe) I understand that to study history (contemporary or ancient), you must study generational shifts in thinking, because the way the generation thinks helps us to understand and explain historical action. And maybe predict future action.
So I think a lot about what Generation Z will be like. I have written before about what Generation Z will be like at work , but I’ve been thinking, recently, that the way Gen Z is educated will change the workplace when they enter it.
Baby boomers changed politics, Gen X changed family, Gen Y changed work, and Gen Z will change education. Here’s how the education of Gen Z will affect us at work.
1. A huge wave of homeschooling will create a more self-directed workforce.
Homeschooling is going mainstream. We have known for a while that public education in the United States is largely terrible. Yes, there are pockets that are exceptional, but for the most part, we have an education crisis on our hands. But Baby Boomers were too scared to solve the crisis with homeschooling. If you homeschool your kids, you take them out of the typical ways to measure how well kids are doing in the competition. Baby Boomers couldn’t handle that, and they also wanted to work full-time, so instead of homeschooling, Baby Boomers got kids tons of tutoring and extra help after school.
Gen X is more comfortable working outside the system than Baby Boomers. Gen X women are fine quitting their jobs to take care of their kids—they have no feminist ax to grind in the workplace. And Gen X parents don’t feel a need to have their kid compete because Gen X is so noncompetitive. So homeschooling among Gen X parents is becoming mainstream. It’s no longer just for religious radicals and problem children. Homeschooling is for parents who know public schools are broken and don’t have $20,000 a year for private school.
This means we will have a generation of kids who grew up with largely a self-learning, self-directed model. They are more accustomed to figuring out what they like to do, and doing it on their own. The crisis to figure out what to do with one’s life will not last so long because Gen X will raise more independent and self-directed kids.
2. Homeschooling as kids will become unschooling as adults.
We have established that school does not prepare people for work. In fact, Gen Y has been very vocal about this problem because a) they did everything they were told to do and it didn’t help them get a job and b) we have a national crisis because gen y has huge debt from college and little ability to pay it back.
With alternative schooling and an 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.
The workplace ramification of this shift in learning is that Generation Z will have no problem directing their careers. They will know how to figure out what skill to learn next, and they will have more self-discipline to do it on their own.
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.
3. The college degree will return to its bourgeois roots; entrepreneurship will rule.
The homeschooling movement will prepare Generation Y to skip college, and Gen X is out-of-the-box enough in their parenting to support that.
One of the books that really changed the way I think is Zac Bissonnette’s book, Debt-Free U. 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.
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.
Ninety percent of Gen Y say they want to be entrepreneurs, but only a very small percent of them will ever launch a full-fledged business, because Generation Y are not really risk takers. However I am guessing (based on links like this one) that most members of Gen X have, at some point, worked for themselves. The entrepreneurship bug will be in full force when Gen Z comes along. They will feel they have no choice but to do that or weather an unstable workplace with huge college debt. People will trade in a college degree for on-the-job learning. The result will be a smarter workforce and the end of universities as a patronage system for philosophers.
I think you’ve got it right. The only way we can combat this disastrous trend is to go the route Germany took: outlaw home schooling.
As an aside, here in California, teacher Michelle Apperson, who was named the district Teacher of the Year in Sacramento, was laid off, after nine years – and apparently excellent teaching.
Reason: seniority. State law requires it. The Unions drove the state law. I agree with cowgirl: public school is sub-optimal.
J. E. “Now they’re also being expected to not only teach the children, but raise them as well.”
That’s part of the plan. Parents are obviously incapable of child-raising, so the government has to take over. More hours in school for kids means fewer hours with parents.
Then add in the fiasco where a student’s lunch was taken away – because the ‘inspector’ said it wasn’t healthy enough. Add in the moronic “zero tolerance’ policies which effectively amount to thought control (and certainly behavior modification), and you have a good case for throwing out the whole public school system and starting over.
The hard point about home schooling is letting people know that there are countless resources out there, for teaching subjects parents might not be expert in. I’ve even read of a homeless home-schooler who won awards. The other complaint against home-schooling is “they’re not socialized” – which is nonsense, unless you keep your kid locked in a closet the whole time.
Every now and again, you’ll find a case where home schooling fails – examples are usually that of a fundamentalist Baptist home schooler in Kentucky. But isolated examples don’t condemn the whole field. As they say in philosophy, abuse of a thing does not undo its use.
I’m gen y and I’m reading this and you are absolutely amazing. Thank you.
In response to the lack of education for engineers and scientists, I would like to point out that our vet has a 12 year old homeschooler in his office 12 hours a week. He says she knows more about animal anatomy and diseases than any tech he’s hired. She has ALWAYS wanted to be a vet. She can’t DO anything at the vet’s, due to her age, but she observes every procedure and surgery that goes on during her time there, and I’ve seen her take copious notes just during our routine shot visit. He says that if she stays on track, she’ll probably be the top vet in a zoo very early in life. Her mother doesn’t know anything about veterinary science, she simply enables her daughter to learn what she wants and needs to learn. I don’t know a darn thing about computer coding, but my 11-year-old son has a few games published on his website. He learned through on-line COLLEGE tutorials, and by asking friends and family in the field to tutor him. He’s not exceptionally intelligent, but he is passionate about what he does. My oldest studied quantum physics in his spare time. He didn’t hesitate to email some expert in the field when he had a question, and invariably they answered him, probably because his questions were thoughtful and relevant. It’s not that these homeschool scientists won’t need a degree, it’s that they are going to know SO MUCH MORE, so much SOONER, than someone who decides to go into that field after being dragged through the public school system. For children who homeschool, they know their passions and their strengths, and they know how to learn what they need to learn. College to them will be viewed as a mere stepping stone in their path to achieving their goal, not the end all and be all of knowledge attainment for the purpose of simply getting a job. These children will be life long learners. They won’t simply sit back once they get a job and be content with their paycheck. These are the engineers, scientists, that will be innovating from the get-go. They won’t carry the burden of an education dictated by sit down, shut up, do what I say, when I say, where I say, you have no valuable opinions, and regurgitate these facts when I command so I look good.
Excellent points, Connie. Your point at the end (” sit down, shut up, do what I say,”) may be a good criticism of our educational system. In fact, it was the system used for generations in Europe (mainly Austria/Germany). It produced a wonderful class of bureaucrats. But I think our system is more of a “my hands are tied. I can’t discipline anybody in any way. I have to teach what’s on the Lesson Plan, which is dictated by Federal, State, and sometimes local laws, rules and regulations. The only good thing about being a teacher is that as long as I’m in the Union, I can’t be fired for any reason short of outright murder or treason. So I’ll just stand here in front of the class, say my lines from the Plan, while the students cavort and riot in the room.”
Every now and again, I read about the home-schooler who wins a spelling bee or science fair. At least one of them was not only home schooled, but homeless.
There are bright kids and dull kids. It seems like the goal of public school education is to bring them both toward an unhappy medium.
The movie “X-Men” was about a school for mutants with extraordinary powers. Perhaps we need a school like Xavier’s, except for really bright kids. There are some already – music schools for young classical musicians – but maybe there should be more.
Hey, Generation Z here, born in 1995. And all I can say, I have lost hope in humanity. Education does need to be rewritten. I dont mean to be anti american, but whats gonna kill us first is our problem with war, wealth & greed. Basically I see it as War, or revolutionize. U.S. has about 500 years worth of oil surrounding us ourselves, and yet we sign a bill to sanction off countries from touching Iran’s oil once its been wiped out from carpet bombings & Food famine. Schooling does need to be rewritten with a moral standpoint and not just getting it from home. reason why Japan and China have such a good society, is because theyre literally taught morals in school, and look where it gets them in the Technology world, and a better environment overall with nicer people aside from the polution problems us having our factories over there I mean I guess thats great.. Can see why in China people get Sugarcane whipped for Grafitti. And yet, they dont have much of that problem as we do. instead a Bible is sat infront of our face and we’re told to read it and people just eh toss it away go party and have sex. Then again I live in Sin City and look at what our society is becomming and compare it, the media is now America’s cheerleaders on how we’re perfect it seems like. You guys are like blind sheep, shit.
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Revolutionizing the worlds education system.There is a growing movement of parents world wide who no longer accept that most students cant learn basic school study skills on their own .Educators historically has failed to provide the basic study skills on how to concentrate and pay attention .The good news is thar a lay man Tony Mc Mahon has developed the first ever visual teaching aid that explains the focusing techniques that remove the obstacles that prevent students from achieving the success they want and deserve .More information on youtube at learningsimplified.net.
I pulled him out and homeschooled him (while working 60 hours a week) from sixth grade until he graduated from high school in April 2012. I live in the SF Bay Area – DO NOT GET ME STARTED ON THE PUBLIC SCHOOL SYSTEM especially in California. http://educationboardresults.info/