Tuesday, April 7, 2009

Boomer Generation, Generation X/Y, and the New Face of Character Development

This article appeared in the New York Times: http://www.nytimes.com/2009/04/07/education/07teacher.html?_r=1

The article above describes the growing number of Boomer Teachers who are getting ready to retire over the next ten years and how it is affecting the landscape of the teachig profession. With the attrition rate for new teachers seemingly rising at the same time, many predict a crisis on the way.

It also makes me wonder about the character education and development aspects of a school. As younger generations filter into the teaching profession, how is character development thought of? What are the values these people hope to instill and, maybe more importantly, how do they intend to instill them?

Some characteristics of Generation Y in the workforce are they demand more benefits for less work, want a role in institutional decision-making almost immediately upon being hired, and will have held five to six different jobs by the time they turn 35. It is also a generation shaped by experiences of exponential change, creativity, and brought up on open-source content and collaboration. If this is the generation set to take over the teaching profession, what values will they pass on?

I can't say I have the answers. One thing I do know is there is something to be said for a healthy mix of old and new perspectives. As a student and teacher of history, I've learned that not taking the time to look back upon moving forward often means mistakes are repeated. The same may go for how we hope to develop honor and character in our students.

Note: The characteristics of Generation Y discussed above were gleaned from a talk by Ron Goldblatt, Executive Director of the Association of Independent Maryland Schools.

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