Sunday, August 21, 2011

The Next Generation

I went to an educational leadership workshop last week with my principal and some other teachers. Aside form the fact that I'd thrown my back out two days earlier and was in a ton of pain, it was a wonderful day. I am really jazzed to try science notebooks with my students this year and got tons of tips. But even better than that were the keynote speakers.

The first speaker was an expert in teaching culturally diverse students. That part was interesting, but it wasn't anything that I hadn't heard before. What really piqued my interest, though was her information about the next generation: The Millennials. This generation considers themselves citizens of the world. They don't see race, religion, or culture. They feel connected to the world through the Internet. They are very informed and can get information instantly. They consider their music, movies, books, and television shows to be very important. They are politically aware. My daughter is one of them.

I am sure that I have blogged about the time that I had my girl scouts plan an activity for Lily's Daisy troop. While they were supposed to be planning, all I heard from the den was gossiping, giggling, texting, and music. I went out there expecting to have seen nothing completed. Nope! While all of that was going on, they had created a power point, lesson plan, poster, and CD of related children's music. Their minds work and process in such a different way. Good grief, I'm a dinosaur. Did my parents ever feel this out of touch?

The closing speaker broke my heart. He had survived the shooting at Columbine in 1999, while his sister had not. His family set up an organization in her memory called Rachel's Challenge. Before her death she had written an essay encouraging others to start a "chain reaction of kindness." The organization holds workshops and presentations encouraging people to do the same. The part that really hit me was when he explained that he regretted that the last words that he spoke to his sister were part of a fight. Before I had sat down to watch him speak, I'd checked my voice mail and heard a very long tear filled complaint from Lily (how did she get my number?) about how this babysitter(her older sister) wasn't working out for her and this was not the fun day she'd had in mind and would I come get her. I briefly wondered if this young man would come and speak to my bickering children.

I left the workshop full of hope. Sometimes, I wonder about the next generation. What kind of leaders would they be. I am sure that our parents wondered them same about us and their parents about them. The next generation is defiantly different than we are, but their seems to be an underlying sense of compassion above all else. I love the idea that the racial divide is closing. My children see no color all they see is good person or not so good person.

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