My dad taught middle school from 1968-2004, when he retired i asked him what changes he saw in students from the beginning of his teaching career to the end. he answered; “the kids never changed. a teenager is always a teenager. the parents however, changed dramatically. they used to respect teachers and side with us in disciplinary matters, but now they think their kids are perfect and we are wrong. glad i’m getting out before it gets worse.”
’97 – “Quit passing notes”
’07 – “Quit texting”
’17 – “Are you seriously watching Netflix right now?”
Im not even a teacher, just a high school senior, but i’d like to make a comment. Us kids often hear stories about how our parents were raised. Anecdotes such as, “when we were kids, we used to leave the house after school without telling our parents where we were going or when we would be back. We would bike with out friends to a creek and hang out until 1 A.M.” – (my dad)
I bring up this example because it is so drastically different nowadays. Kids back in the 70s – 90s had much more independence than they do now. If i want to go out, i have to tell my parents where I am going, who with, and when I’ll be back. Part of the reason for this is the perceived danger of modern times. Many adults believe their generation was much safer than ours is, despite research indicating exactly the opposite. (Probably because of the media’s coverage of everything bad that goes on.)
Anyway, my point is that kids today never had the independence they needed to succeed in life. They/we are constantly relying on another person to help us out. And if you think about it, nature vs nurture… nature hasn’t changed much, but the way we are raised has drastically shifted.
In 97 you could have failed your sophomore year, done well junior, slacked off senior and gotten into an Ivy League school, in ’07 you could only slack off senior year and make Ivy. In 17 if you get a C in AB calculus while doing every other class AP you can kiss an ivy leauge school away. Also I’ve noticed a lot more kids need medication for stress, anxiety, and depression because of said stress.
Not a teacher, but many in the family (elementary level). And they say the kids are basically the same, but the parents are sooooo much worse. They’re not involved in their child’s education, blaming the teacher for poor scores despite never even sitting down and reading a book with their kid, they don’t follow through with discipline after their child misbehaves at school, the list goes on and on…
I started teaching 7 ago, and in my first semester I was having lunch with an old veteran teacher of over 30 years. I’ll never forget what she told me about how education has changed in that time…
“Used to be if you failed a kid, they would go to the kid and say, ‘What the f*ck is wrong with you?’. Now when you fail a kid, they come to you and say, ‘What the f*ck is wrong with you?’”
Biggest difference is the kids used to be accountable, now we just always blame the teacher.
1997 – “You won’t always have a calculator with you everywhere you go in life!”
2017 – “Before beginning the test, every student must disable the multi-function calculator that goes with them everywhere in life.”
1997- Teacher: “Put your hands on the desk.”
2007- Teacher : “I’m going to call your parents.”
2017- Teacher :” Don’t call your parents please.”
97 – sarcastic, grungy, smoking more cigarettes, more clique-y and edgy
07 – petty, attention starved, overwhelmed, but much nicer
17 – under so many layers of irony and memes they don’t even know who they are anymore or care. there’s no point in being creative or devolving a personality, anything you could think of has already been done.
As a college instructor, teaching all of them right now, taking those years as one year removed from HS graduation.
97: I’m taking school seriously to better myself and my career.
07: I should have not taken all those gap years, c’s get degrees.
17: Oh shit if I don’t get at least a Master’s I’m going to be made redundant by a robot.
1997: The world is my oyster. I can do anything!
2007: The world is my oyster. I can do anything! But I need to make sure I have some extracurricular activities so I can get into a good college!
2017: The world is my oyster. I can do anything! But I need to make sure I have traveled to Africa and volunteered at an orphanage, played 95 sports, be proficient in 3 languages, hire a service to edit my application, hire a service to edit my life, have an extensive social media presence, be an entrepreneur, look like I just walked out of a modeling gig, get plastic surgery to fix my flaws, not have any flaws, be different and cool, while ironically still being the same as everyone else, be pushy and entitled to make sure I get ahead and eat all organic, vegan, non-gmo, cruelty-free everything. Oh but I need to make sure I have no social skills or life skills so that when I get out into the world I am like an infant babboon.
Since I am an old fart who has been teaching during all of these years, I will give my impression. The main difference I see is in attention span and impulsivity. The 2017ers cannot focus on only one thing. If I am talking, they will be doing 10 other things. They have the attention span of a gnat and can’t sit still for love nor money. But, if I stop and ask what I just said, they can usually quote me word for word. I’ve seen an exponential increase in attention deficit and vestibular issues. But the really strange thing is they just don’t seem curious. Maybe they are so bombarded with information they don’t need to be? Where kids before would ask lots of questions, want to know and find out things, the 2017ers just seem like flat-liners who could care less. Content knowledge has been watered down because “they can just google it”, but they don’t! If I had had google at their age, I would have been in heaven. 2017ers can literally find out anything in the world they want to know at the touch of a few buttons, and they just can’t be bothered. Or can’t still long enough to do it. There’s one elementary teacher’s take.
Mom is a teacher for generally 3 to 5 year olds, I got this:
Kids are certainly more abstract thinkers than they used to be. This was a project they did about foods starting with ‘P’
97: Pineapple, Pickles.
’07: Pecan, Peanut, Potatoes, Pears.
’17: Purple lollipops, Pigs in a blanket, Pepperoni Pizza
They’re more likely to tell stories and negotiate. One kid roughly explained the concept of double jeopardy–You can’t get in trouble for the same thing twice–to a teacher he was having a conversation with. One kid said that he wasn’t hitting his classmate, but “the wind pushed him hand when he was running”.
If they have a question that you “can’t” (sometimes this means “won’t”) answer, they’ll ask you to use your phone or the computer to find the answer. It seems like they’re aware that information is very close at hand and no question doesn’t have an answer. They don’t take “Just because” or “No reason” at face value anymore.
I teach English at a rural high school. The biggest issue for 2017 students is that they have almost zero self confidence. I don’t know if this is a product of culture, or if this is just a fluke with my students. However, they are unwilling to try anything challenging or new without an extreme amount of one on one guidance. And that’s very difficult to give in a classroom of 30.
Edit: dang this blew up. Nice to hear I’m not alone in noticing this.
1997: Parent to child: “How dare you fail (math, science, etc.)!”
2007: Parent to self: “How have I failed my child?”
2017: Parent to teacher: “How dare you fail my child!”
’97: after high school I can go to college if I want to or not, and easily find a job either way
’07: after high school I need a college degree but it’s going to put me in serious debt and my job prospects are low
’17: I think I want to go to college, but I don’t know what for, and I really don’t want to go unless it’ll lead directly to a high paying job because my debt will be so high.
All teens rebel. They all think they have it right and the grownups have it wrong… but they show it differently.
In 97 the prevailing word was Anger. “I HATE the way things are..” Kids were harsher. Meaner. Being nasty was the way to show you’re cool. I saw a lot of kids get their kicks out of breaking the Santa illusion for grade schoolers for example. 17 kids are much nicer to each other. Think of the music of the time, Smashing Pumpkins, NIN, and the like. “In spite all my rage I am still just a rat in a cage”
In 07 the word was Mope. Kids were softening up, being nicer to eachother, but also getting more into the “Sadness is beautiful” kind of thing. They weren’t angry at the adults so much as they just wanted them to go away and hide into their hoodies. “Leave me alone to my solitude.” Consider the way Emo was huge at this time.
In 17 kids are MUCH nicer to each other. They’re kind to young kids and friendlier in general… but there’s this strange undercurrent of competition to be “The Most Good Person” which leads to the weird “Yes Mayonnaise is a gender if that’s how you identify” kind of thing. In ’17 kids want to explain to the grownups how they’re all bigots. They also handle failure FAR worse than previous generations. ’17 kids try harder and genuinely want to succeed in ways that the ’97 kids didn’t. In ’97 you were cool if you avoided working hard and didn’t care if you failed… but ’97 kids also recovered from adversity faster. They didn’t bruise as easily. They were harder, meaner kids, but also didn’t quit as easily and thrived on constructive criticism.
Started teaching high school in 1995. Still teach.
1997 – High school kids fall into distinct categories as do the course titles: college bound and not college bound – which is perfectly okay with parents and kids. Lots of electives for kids to explore their strengths and passions. Only college bound kids take standardized tests and these kids are confident, creative, and inquisitive. Non college bound kids are chill, too, and have confidence that their skills and work ethic will land them a decent middle class life. Kids aren’t very inclusive or accepting of differences.
2007 – Budget cuts to education = loss of electives, arts, and music. New standardized testing requirements begin and all kids regularly sit for hours taking tests that simply beat them down. An “all kids are college bound” mentality is the norm. Kids are unprepared and when they earn average grades in challenging classes, the kids feel stupid and complain to parents…. who decide it’s the fault of the overpaid, underworked teacher. Every kid is going to be a doctor – even the ones who can’t pass chemistry. Kids are more inclusive, but online bullying becomes a huge distraction.
2017 – Still no electives as they are expensive to run. Instead students are pushed out into early college and online courses. The class of 2017 knows nothing other than the regular and systematic beating down of standardized tests. Because a gradebook app immediately gives them a notification (green arrow up or a red arrow down) when grades are entered, they are obsessed with grades. They see little correlation between grades and learning. They haven’t been asked to be creative or inquisitive without technology in years and when challenged to do so now, they become frustrated and more than ever…they feel stupid. They fear failure and student debt and while they want to go to college and become doctors, they are afraid to verbalize this dream. Kids are much nicer to each other and way more inclusive.
High school math/science teacher.
’97: 95% of students completed homework.
’07: 50% of students completed homework.
’17: 5% of students complete homework.