This week I had a bit of an “OMG” moment. I was talking to my sister and she mentioned that in 2 years my nephew would be out of school and getting ready for college. Not only was I thrown off at the thought of my nephew being a college student but also at the thought that he will not be a millennial, he will be a post-millennial. We are now at the point where a whole new generation of students are entering our schools, and for you High School teachers out there, you have already been dealing with this new generation for a while.
I realized that I know nothing about this upcoming generation so I did some research. I want to share a few of the highlights with you. First, let’s address the name. At this current moment in time, I found various names for this generation including Post-Millennials, Gen Z, iGen, and Centennials. Now don’t expect the name to stick. As a generation comes of age their name will change based on the characteristics that define them. For example, we know our current generation as Millennials but before they got that name they were known as Gen Y.
Depending on which research you look at, Gen Z’s were born somewhere between 1996 and 2000. One reason I found to support the early date of 1996 was that the defining moment in a Millennial’s life was 9/11, and anyone born from 1996 on would not remember even and therefore, would fall into the Gen Z/Post-Millennial group. So, the oldest Gen Z is somewhere between 17 and 21 years old, which puts them into our classrooms!
Millennials were known as the Digital Natives; Gen Z are known as the Cloud Natives. Millennials never knew life without access to technology and Gen Z will never know life without social media. There are currently 23 million Gen Z’s and over the next decade they will be the fastest growing generation in the workforce.
Since this generation is so young there are not many characteristics defined yet. Some sources indicate they will be self-starters, self-aware, innovative and goal-oriented. They are social, global, entrepreneurial, and hyper aware. They are reliant on technology and very good at multitasking. I just read a couple of statistics that said Gen Z’s reach for their smartphones every 7 minutes and send/receive over 3,000 text messages a month!
Another interesting fact I read about Gen Z is that their favorite website is YouTube. I was curious about this and asked my sister about my nephew’s internet habits. She confirmed, he spends more time watching YouTube videos than he does playing video games or watching TV.
So I’m sure the question you are ready to ask is “how do you teach this generation?”
The answer to that will require more time than we have in this one blog post. So, check back from time to time and we will start sharing some tips to help usher this new generation into our classroom.