I am learning a lot about millennials, those born between 1976 and 2004. Some put the first date later, while all affirm that millennials are that group that is coming of age at the turn of the century.
Coming of age is a good place to start. Millennials are not in a rush to make this happen. In fact, it’s not easy trying to teach a generation that is not eager about life. Optimism is a foreign concept for millennials because they seem to base optimism on a Facebook image or a snap-chat post. If it looks the part, then it is real optimism. Deep insight with understanding of real motive has vacated this generation almost entirely. Real relationship is hard for them to build.
How do you wake up such a group?
How do you inspire such a group?
How do you encourage a group that has no direction?
How do you reach a generation with no questions?
When I first started teaching I had many students who would pose questions in class and they would debate and argue with me. In fact, when I first started teaching at a small junior college many students wanted to start a philosophy club. They asked me to be the advisor and we named it the epistemology club, and over 35 attended the first meeting and it grew from there. Students today on average are not interested in that. It’s depressing. It’s almost as if millennials are not cognitively excited about much. I know I sound like a joy kill, but these are observations I have but do not believe.
What I believe is that there is a way to reach them. I see this as an ethical question since so much knowledge must be passed on other wise we are facing a near extinction of living wisdom. All that the greatest generation has to offer, everything boomers have realized, they are facing dissolution. At no time in history has a generation existed with almost no roots to the past or any foundation of principle from previous generations. Building an ethical foundation needs to start growing roots somewhere. Perhaps we start with empathy, but not to give it to millennials, but to take it away. For a generation that has been pampered more than any other, maybe its time we take some of that away. It might just be the way for many of them to develop empathy.