Tuesday, July 20, 2004

Generation X Learning Strategies

New Learning Strategies for Generation X
My interest in this article dates me -- a seven-year-old reference to Generation X isn't exactly cutting edge, but I thought there was a bunch of stuff in here that bears repeating. I think it probably applies equally well to most learners under 30 (although with an even greater technology dependence) and older folks are wired to think this way. Although it would be interesting to investigate how these generalizations have changed as the GenXers get older, this list of characteristics accurately describes how I still prefer learn and why I'm occasionally frustrated in my work:
  • Having grown up with both parents working/furthering their education, Xers are used to getting things done on their own. Hence, they tend to be independent problem solvers and self-starters. They want support and feedback, but they don't want to be controlled.
  • Because many of them grew up with computers, Generation Xers are technologically literate. They are familiar with computer technology and prefer the quick access of Internet, CD-ROMs, and the World Wide Web as their sources for locating information.
    Conditioned to expect immediate gratification, Generation Xers are responsive. They crave stimulation and expect immediate answers and feedback.
  • Skeptical of society and its institutions, Generation Xers are focused. As learners, they don't want to waste time doing quantities of school work; they want their work to be meaningful to them. "They want to know why they must learn something before they take time to learn how" (Caudron 1997, p. 22).
  • Knowing that they must keep learning to be marketable, Generation Xers are lifelonglearners. They do not expect to grow old working for the same company, so they view their job environments as places to grow. They seek continuing education and training opportunities; if they don't get them, they seek new jobs where they can.
  • Craving success on their own terms, Generation Xers are ambitious. They are "flocking to technology start-ups, founding small businesses and even taking up causes--all in their own way" (Hornblower 1997, p. 58).
  • As illustrated by their involvement in extreme sports such as bungee jumping and sky surfing, Generation Xers are fearless. "Indeed, adversity, far from discouraging youths, has given them a harder, even ruthless edge. Most believe 'I have to take what I can get in this world because no one is going to give me anything.'" (ibid., p. 62.).

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