Everyone else is doing it, so More With Les is jumping on the bandwagon. After what seemed like endless minutes of contemplation and deliberation, I am now ready to announce the More With Les blog’s Person of the Year for 2007.
The winner is the Millennial student.
The students in the generational group referred to as the “Millennials” were born beginning in 1982 and continuing to 20xx. Along with their five predecessor generations, the Millennials span nearly 120 birth years. But Millennials are unlike any of the youths of previous generations. They are more of them. They are better educated and more affluent. They are more ethnically diverse than previous generations, according to Strauss and Howe (2006) in Millennials and the Pop Culture. And most important, Millennials are already having a profound impact on society. I see it every day as a college instructor in classes filled with Millennials.
But beyond demographics, the Millennials are characterized by a focus on teamwork, achievement, modesty, and good conduct. The Millennial college students in my classes are engaged and upbeat and oh so technologically savvy. These students are:
Close to their parents.
Focused on grades and performance.
Busy with extracurricular activities.
Eager to volunteer for community service.
Talented in technology.
More interested in math and science, relative to the humanities.
Insistent on a secure, regulated environment.
Respectful of norms and institutions.
Ethnically diverse, but less interested in questions of racial identity.
Majority female, but less interested in questions of gender identity (Strauss and Howe, 2006, p. 54).
Among the most important impacts of Millennials is their redefining society’s relationship to technology, especially their unprecedented influence over pop culture delivery. Witness the success of online music stores. They demand that entertainment service and products be digital, media-free, and interactive. Millennials want their entertainment products and services transmitted through anything, stored anywhere, to be enjoyed at any time by anybody and with a wide variety of equipment.
Strauss and Howe call this “team tech” as manifested in Millennnials’ desire for portable, customized, shareable listening experiences. The explosion of ringtones, ringbacks, and wallpaper for cell phones, with estimated sales of around $4 billion worldwide, is almost entirely driven by Millennials.
Millennials love the action-response of anything interactive, viewing that as making it fun. As with all of the characteristics discussed here, this has profound implications to the education of Millennials.
Among other characteristics of Millennials is that they are optimistic, with nine out of ten describing themselves as “happy”, “confident”, and “positive”. They follow rules and trust and accept authority. For example, Millennials favor more stringent rules against misbehaving in class and society at large.
Millennials gravitate to group activity, a manifestation of this being their tendency to engage in community service in greater numbers than previous generations.
Many of their collective characteristics must come from the fact that Millennials are the most watched-over generation in memory. They were brought up in closely-managed, highly structured environments by protective parents. Millennials were a wanted generation of kids by their parents. Millennials have been regarded as special since birth and have been obsessed over at every age. They were born into an era of falling divorce and abortion rates, an era characterized by that which harms children is intolerable (Strauss and Howe, 2006).
It amazes me how many of my Millennial students tell me that their parents are their “best friends”. It is common for many of these students to talk with their parents via mobile phone as many as five times day or more. Many of my Millennial Facebook friends list in their “Favorites” their “Fam”.
And Millennials are smart. In fact, eight in ten say it is “cool to be smart.”
To summarize, Millennials are oriented toward personal safety, family closeness, community action, applied technology, and long-term planning. Millennials opt for the good of the group, patience, conformity, and a focus on deeds over words. They value finding consensus more than being right. Millennials set their standards high, get organized, set up teams, and create community (Strauss and Howe, 2006).
And so it is with great pleasure I present to the More With Les learning community my pick for Person of the Year 2007, the Millennial student. As an educator, this group is extremely important to me. They will, as Strauss and Howe say, rebel against the Gen-X (1961-1981) style and attitudes, correct for Baby Boomer (1943-1960) excesses, and fill the void vacated by the G.I. Generation (1901-1924).
One final note of great importance: regular readers of MWL know that this Boomer/blogger is an auto racing fan. News flash — IRL IndyCar racer Danica Patrick is a Millennial. She was born March 25, 1982. How cool is that!!