“Millennials & K-12 Schools”

Millennials & K-12 Schools: Educational Strategies for a New Generation by Neil Howe and William Strauss

Note: I’m posting this review because I think this is a good book for educators. It’s not so much for students. (I’ll be back at the student books next week!)

My husband, who is also an educator, recommended this book to me, and as it is short (120 pp. 😉 ), I figured I’d have a look at it. Its premise is that generations are shaped by the eras in which they are raised. Millennials includes a discussion of Baby Boomers and of Generation Xers as they were when they were students and as they are now as teachers and school administrators. Millennials—the students who are now in our high schools and are just becoming old enough to be teachers themselves—are contrasted against these earlier generations. As their lives and attitudes are different from previous generations, schools that hope to give them the best education need to take into account just how they differ. Millennials also discusses how to cope with their parents.

I found the book interesting. It outlines seven characteristics of Millennials: special (vital to their parents’ sense of purpose); sheltered; confident; team-oriented; conventional; pressured; achieving. “They could become the best-educated youths in American history and the best-behaved young adults in living memory. But they also have a tendency toward copying, consensus, and conformity that educators will want to challenge. The new Millennial trends, both positive and negative, will require broad changes in the educational strategies.”

Each chapter of Millennials discusses one of the changes necessary to educational institutions that will help the kids and young adults of this generation. Information about how to get the best out of Millennials who become teachers is included. (Even as adults, they rely on their parents a lot, much more so than folks in previous generations, and districts may have to start appealing to the parents to be able to hire the teachers. I have to say, this astounds me.) Helping parents of Millennials get involved in a positive way at school is also tackled. (According to Howe and Strauss, Boomers and Gen Xers may be ‘helicopter parents,’ but Gen Xers who have Millennial children are ‘stealth bombers,’ swooping in to attack the system when they perceive any threat, no matter how minor, to their children. They are otherwise uninterested in the school and unlike Boomers, will not help in the hope of achieving general ideals and goals, but only if the task will forward their own child’s prospects. Of course, this is a generalization, and isn’t fair to all parents of Millennials, but research on the subject is included.)

The authors also warn administrators that the workaholic value of the Boomer generation is gone. Gen Xers want to spend more time with their children, who complete their lives; late Gen Xers with Millennial children perceive their children as the absolute purpose of their lives rather than the completion. Just as the strategies for student success must change, strategies for educators’ work place success must also, and it doesn’t look like it’s going to include 70-hour workweeks.

Millennials is a quick, fun read that will help you understand not only where your students are coming from, but why your colleagues who are a generation older or younger act as they do.

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About Victoria Waddle

I'm a high school librarian, formerly an English teacher. I love to read and my mission is to connect people with the right books. To that end, I read widely--from the hi-lo for reluctant high school readers to the literary adult novel for the bibliophile.
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