Sunday, March 16, 2008

They can dish it out, but can they take it?

Last week I was teaching a seminar to a group of mostly Babyboomers sprinkled with a couple Xers and Millennials. It's been a while since I taught a group of "grown ups" and it got me thinking about the differences between teaching Boomers and Millennials.

I'm a Gen Xer, so working with the generations that came before and after me can be a challenge. But I'm starting to think the Millennials can be the tougher students to deal with. Here's why: It often feels like the Millennials can dish it out the criticism, but they can't always take it.

"Teaching can be a humbling experience," a friend of mine emailed me recently. Boomers have high expectations of the instructor, but they are also sympathetic to how hard it is to teach. They want to "get it right" - and they will question you until you explain your points in a manner that they understand.

Millennials also have high expectations. But to them, the responsibility for their learning often is on the instructor. They don't do the "Let me make sure I understand this..." challenging like the Boomers. But in the end, if they don't have fun - or they don't get the grade they want - they get mad at the instructor. The Boomers get mad at themselves when they don't the grade they want.


Unknown said...

Fred said...

When facilitating a group of community college faculty through a session about generational differences I was very surprised at one of the questions. "Isn't part of learning for the instructor not to change but for the student to adapt to the instructor?"

The surprising part was this comment came not from a Boomer but a Gen Xer. What a shame because there was nothing I was going to say that would convince this instructor that maybe a little accommodation would make everyone a winner. I guess the stupid gene covers all generations.