Understanding Generational Divide and the art of Teaching Gen Z

by Ella Wilson
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The subject of the Generational divide has always been controversial among scholars. While some believe that it is deserving of all the attention it gets, others believe that it is nothing but a buzzword. Scholars who negate the concept argue that the generational divide is a man-made concept that has no real impact on how a person behaves. According to them, the timing or year of birth has no impact on the nature and mindset of a person, at least not to an extent where a label called ‘generational divide’ is required.

Generational Divide is More than a Buzzword

This statement could have been considered valid before the 20th century. However, after the advent of internet in the ’80s, things were never the same. People who were born between the years 1981 – 1996, grew up with internet as its availability had become common. This generation is now known as millennials. However, it won’t be wrong to say that people who are born after 1996, live and breathe technology. It is a huge part of the current generation, known as Generation Z.

Considering this timeline, denying the impact of the Generational gap won’t be reasonable. Teachers, entrepreneurs, doctors, and even parents of the current generation are not in touch with the latest technological development. It is important to understand and bridge this gap as for the first time, four generations are working together in offices and educational institutes. The gap or distance between the cultures of generations can cause barriers to creativity.

Students from generation Z have been brought up with the continuous availability of the internet. From ordering food to doing small chores, they have used the assistant of the tech world. They are now entering colleges and universities, and teachers believe that educating this generation is no less than a challenge. The wide gap between the traditional teaching methods and Gen Z’s learning style is complicated to some extent. Teachers who have used classic methods of reading, writing and assessment in class for years find it challenging to teach a generation that understands the language of numbers and emojis.

However, teachers can put this issue to rest by incorporating a few teaching tips into their methods.

Allowing Educational Freedom Offline and Online

Generation Z is a fast generation. They use the power of internet to dig deep and are usually acquainted with topics, beforehand. Experts believe that to let them explore the best in them, it is important that they have creative and educational freedom. If you are a teacher who is not necessarily in touch with the latest technology, it is a smart and clever decision to let students take the lead. By allowing them educational freedom, you can find out the student’s preferred mode of learning. Whether they like a traditional method, online method, or a hybrid one. By giving them some control over class learning, you can steer your approaches in the right direction.

Bring Class Community to Social Media

Social media is a huge part of Generation Z. Whether they are in class or sitting in a café, they are mostly seen immersed in social media communicating with their peers. Instead of resisting this, teachers can use this point to their advantage. Building social communities online and offline in class have proven to have a better impact on class communication. Using the students’ ability to communicate, interact, and socialize well, teachers can enhance the overall class performance and environment. These communities can be promoted on social media as well so that students can take healthy classroom discussions and assignments online, resulting in improved learning.

Familiarize yourself with Digital World

Despite the gap, internet is a thing that not most people are unaware of. No matter what your age, internet can come in handy if you know how to make the correct use. To know your students better, it is recommended by experts to familiarize yourself with basic educational apps and software and a little bit of social media. Considering the speed with which Gen Z works, you don’t want to appear clueless in a classroom when they have dug into a topic deeper than the teacher. Moreover, a teacher who is well aware of the tech world would find it easier to teach generation Z.

Add a Twist to Your Lectures

Due to the fast-paced world of technology, the attention span of Gen Z has reduced. They don’t pay attention to dragged conversations and their mind steers towards the most random things. To keep them engaged and interested in the classroom, it is important to cut your conversation short. Experts recommend cutting the lecture into short pieces, adding creative exercises, and tasks in between. This would keep them engaged and active throughout the class.

Use Graphics and Visuals

Generation Z understands emojis better. Instead of writing ‘All is well’, they’d send a thumbs-up emoji and tap the trouble of typing way. This nature of the internet has reduced their love for reading, listening, and even writing. It’s not entirely a bad thing, but they are more responsive to visuals. Using videos and slides to teach gen Z has proven to be of high efficacy in class and at home as well. Research showed that most of the students studying in a traditional environment seek help from YouTube videos at home to understand better. Incorporate digital methods of teaching into your routine and divide a big chunk of information into shareable videos.

Keep your Lectures Relevant

As mentioned earlier, Gen Z has a short attention span. While you are lecturing them about a topic, high chances are that they are not paying attention. It is extremely important to use class time smartly and talk about relevant things. Try not to divert from topic and use your time smartly to grasp the attention of students. Another way to have their attention is to explain to them beforehand why the topic under discussion is important and relevant for them.

Generational Divide didn’t matter as much before, but the internet has changed everything. The generational divide has become a wide term that comprises of not one, but many different conflicts and barriers. To achieve the desired outcome, it is extremely important for educational institutes to introduce measures that bridge these gaps. Consider giving your students freedom, control and observe how they want to learn and design your teaching methods according to their preference. However, no matter how many techniques you use, it is important for the teachers to understand and familiarize themselves with the student culture. Even when a teacher doesn’t know much about that culture, joining training programs based on tech and digital education can turn out to be extremely helpful.

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