Recently I received a phone call from my mom asking me if she could ask me some questions about her new iPhone. (Background Info – My mom is a member of the ‘Baby Boomer’ generation. My wife and I had added her and my dad to our cell phone plan.) I told my mom that I would be glad to help her and we arranged that I would come over the next day after work to help her. When I arrived my mom took out a spiral notebook that had a page full of questions about her phone that she needed me to answer. I have had an iPhone for several years, so many of the ‘issues’ were easily answered. However there were some that I wasn’t sure about, so I ‘Googled’ a few of them to find the answer. For others I just started ‘trying stuff’ to see if I could figure it out. I asked her several times if she tried this potential solution or that potential solution, to which every time she said “No, I was afraid that I would wreck it.” I responded, a little frustrated or impatiently, “Mom, there is nothing on this phone or what we are doing that is doing to ‘wreck it’ and if what we try doesn’t work, we can just change it back.” Through this process of trail and error, we were able to ‘solve’ all of her questions.
As I was driving home, I was reflecting upon the situation and my disbelief that my mom had all of these questions and couldn’t resolve them by herself. Then on top of that, when I got home my 1st grade daughter was fully operating my iPad and she certainly hasn’t asked dad for all the ‘answers’ on how to play the Hair Salon 2 app or the BrainPop Jr. app. It then occurred to me why this was all happening…my mom is part of the ‘Wite Out Generation‘, while I am a part of the ‘Ctrl + Z Generation‘. My mom was brought up in a generation where there are ‘experts’ on things that you had to go to for answers. A generation where things can ‘break’ if they were handled by novices. A generation that learned by listening to ‘experts’ talk. A generation that isn’t used to, and is somewhat afraid of, technology. A generation who, if they made a mistake, had to use laborious products like ‘Wite Out’ to try to fix their mistakes (and even Wite Out didn’t fully erase their mistake). I am from a generation where knowledge and expertise no longer is only in the hands of ‘experts’. A generation who can have self-directed access to this expertise 24/7. A generation, especially related to technology, that is used to and therefore not afraid of technology and actually using it. A generation who knows that we always have the option to just do a ‘Ctrl + Z’ to undo any mistakes we made.
So if we view these generations through this lens of ‘Wite Out Generation‘ vs. ‘Ctrl + Z Generation‘, what are the implications for schools, our teachers, our students and all of our ‘generational’ needs? If you are a school administrator or leader, what accommodations or adjustments are you making to support and engage your ‘Wite Out Generation‘ teachers? How could this perspective on this generation of teachers impact your view of these teachers and their current roles as leaders and learners within your school? If you are a ‘Wite Out Generation‘ teacher what must you acknowledge about yourself, your teaching and learning styles given that you are a part of this generation? How do you need to change/update yourself and your perspective to continue to learn, grow, and stay relevant and effective in a largely ‘Ctrl + Z‘ world?
Conversely if you are a member of the ‘Ctrl + Z Generation‘, what does this mean for you? What advantages and disadvantages does having this generational membership give you? How does this affect/change your ability to work effectively with your colleagues, specifically those from a ‘Wite Out’ time? What learning styles/approaches are best for you? What do you need and want from your school administrator or leader? If you are a school administrator or leader, what accommodations or adjustments are you making to support and engage your ‘Ctrl + Z Generation‘ teachers?
But the most important thing to consider, as a school leader, teacher, member of the ‘Wite Out Generation‘ or the ‘Ctrl + Z Generation‘ is what does all of this mean for our students? For how they learn? For what they learn? For who teaches them? For what their future needs will be?, etc.? What does the generational trend away from ‘Wite Out’ and more to ‘Ctrl + Z’ mindset mean? How does this affect our perspectives of learning, teaching, education, schools, experts, curiosity and failure? If we don’t consider the background of our teachers and leaders and if we don’t consider the preferences, needs and future of our students’ of this generation…I don’t care if you have the jumbo size bottle of Wite Out or if you are an expert in using the keyboard short cut to ‘undo’…our mistakes will be inerasable.