Zeners or Generation Z are is far superior in their thinking, learning and activities. Further they are exposed to a wide spectrum of learning opportunities as well as platforms to showcase his abilities and talents. In this article author Viola Isaac argues how educating Zeners requires a fresh approach and strategy.
We have all read the poem ‘The Dash’ at some point in our lives. From an educationist perspective, the period from ‘birthdate to school or college Graduation’, contributes and becomes an integral part of ‘the dash’ in a person’s life.
Education begins early in a child’s life.
The praxis in the bygone days was to let a child play at home until he was about four or five years old until he was thought to be ready for school. The child played with homemade toys and socialized with family members and friends in the neighbourhood. He learned all basic functional skills from his parents or grandparents, who were his first set of teachers. An expression such as ‘The All Round Development of a child’ was unheard of since moral and ethical guidance and unlimited play was a day to day living experience for the child. Values such as honesty, kindness, love and compassion were learned by practice. Later on, in order for the child to have a formal school education, parents entrusted their wards to the teachers in the nearby schools. At the end of his school years, invariably a government job was assured.
The Gradual Progression
Education brought about radical changes when the girl child was also tutored in a school and later on in a college. She was trained in various skills and could earn money. The ’Working Woman’ who could multitask evolved from the ‘Family Workforce’.
Baby Boomers [1944-1964] TO Gen ‘X’ [1965-1979] TO Gen ‘Y’ [Millennial] [1980- 1999]
The keenness of educated parents to get their child to be more educated than themselves made them add pressure and sometimes intimidation on the school and the teachers. Since the focus was towards the development of the child, it was becoming necessary for the school to call upon parents to lend their support alongside the teachers, so that they would be aware and participate [to some degree] in the education process of their ward. This was the beginning of the Parent-Teacher Interactions in schools. Besides academics, a small percentage of students began to get specialized in other fields such as sports, music, martial arts, etc. which was uncommon for most children.
Gen ‘Z’ [2000 – till date]
The next generation, the Zener or Generation ‘Z’ evolved from Gen ‘Y’ in rapid succession.
It is noteworthy that the child of this generation is far superior in his thinking, learning and activities. He is exposed to a wide spectrum of learning opportunities as well as platforms to showcase his abilities and talents. This extends from academic to co-curricular and extra- curricular areas. The student does not feel constrained as he is able to excel in some area of his own potential. His education, hence, is not confined to the school, its curriculum and the facilitators.
Here is some noticeable resourcefulness in the Zener. He is a big dreamer who dares to stretch and reach out to great heights.
The Zener creates his options. Therefore he is…
1. Self-Taught in many areas: The Gen ‘Z’ child does not wait to be taught in school. If he is curious to know something, he gains accurate and current knowledge or information on his own from several sources such as the internet, social media, mainstream Media, discussions with peers or written materials like magazines and newspaper articles. Many a time, his knowledge exceeds that of the school facilitator.
2. A creator: Success in small projects drives him to apply his knowledge to create machines to make life simpler for people. He is driven to convert his knowledge and understanding into machines such as rockets, space shuttles and solar equipment, etc. so that life is made more practical and easy.
Outdoors: The Zener seeks opportunities in some Sports Academy or any available facility, where he is able to devote more time to practice and specialize in any sport with a long-term goal in mind.
Indoors: The craze for playing and creating Computer games is very common among the Zeners and thus he indulges deeply in the same for a prospective career.
4. A trendsetter in Fashion: Personal grooming, styling, ramp walks and designer clothes lead him to the popular Modelling Industry where opportunities are worldwide.
5. A producer and composer of music: The Zener learns to either sing or play an instrument of his choice on his own, often excelling and performing as a professional would.
6. An explorer of different skills: The Zener learns many skills such as art, craft, cookery and is able to conduct classes on his own. He is able to participate in competitions and develop socially at a different level.
7. A reformer: Issues and concerns relating to the environment, his own community and the nation as a whole are taken up seriously by groups of young Zeners. They work towards the upliftment of the downtrodden and strive to improve the living conditions of the low income persons. The courage and confidence they display is amazing as they venture to meet the needs of the society.
The transition that I have observed is that ‘Time seemed like a vast expanse’ earlier, but now it has put the Zener into a tight rigid frame. There are many sparks that radiate from the Gen ‘Z’ every moment. His boundaries are expanding each day. It is a welcome challenge indeed for the facilitators/teachers to keep up to the summons. Although it is challenging, it is not impossible.
About the Author
Viola Isaac is a school educationist and has worked in several reputed schools in Bangalore and Coimbatore. She is drawn towards students with behaviour issues, slow learners and students with specific
learning difficul.es. She is currently involved in Teacher Training Programs and assists in Early Childhood Curriculum Development. She counsels parents and students when necessary to help them .de over issues. She believes and strives towards bridging gaps at all levels to bring about a smooth transi.on from ignorance to awareness and knowledge.