I recently spent four months in the classroom with the first wave of Generation Z students to reach the shores of the university where I teach.
After innocently referring to them at the beginning of the semester as “Millenials,” they quickly corrected me: “We’re Generation Z!” my students declared, loudly and definitively. Fifty college freshmen—born at the turn of the century—then spent the next 15 weeks schooling this Gen-Xer about what the dawn of a new universe looks like.
Here are the basics: Generation Z was raised by my fellow Gen-Xers on a steady diet of smartphones, video games, Bush 43, SpongeBob, Obama, hashtags, and emoticons in a post-September 11th era. The late 20th Century—Reagan, “Like a Virgin,” rotary phones, The Breakfast Club, Gulf War, Grunge, Princess Diana, Columbine, and the first iteration of the Clintons, et al—is ancient history to them. And their coming of age and adulthood will forever be demarcated as before and after Trump v. Hillary.
But what I would learn about Gen-Z goes so much deeper, more to the heart of this generation than anything that can be explained by the latest polls, studies, surveys, and stereotypes that are attempting to entrap these young people in a defined square. . .
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