Por Lilia Patricia González
If we want
to understand the way that the new generation of our students learn,
it is necessary to know how the specialist divided the different
generation of persons.
Scientists have been
classifying some generations of the last century. The first are
those persons that were born before 1933 are called World War
II generation, the second is the Swing generation (1933-1945);
the third the boomers are those persons that were born from
1946 to 1964; the Generation X´ers were born from 1965-1976;
the Net or Echo Boom Generation people born from 1977 to 1997 is
heading for the American workplace and is bringing a lot of new
realities with it.
There is another
type of generation. We can find it in the USA. The Latin Generation
X is currently rediscovering their roots and inventing a new, bicultural
identity, Known as Generation ñ (EN-yay), many members of
this group feel they have it much better than their parents did
in America. All of them have a special way of learning, living and
The generation of
our students can be classified as "Net generation". They
are different from any generation before them. They are the first
to grow up surrounded by digital media. Computers are everywhere
in the home, school, factory, and office. There are digital technologies-cameras,
video games, and CD-ROMs at their reach. Today´s young people
think technology is part of the natural landscape. To them, digital
technology is no more intimidating than VCR or a toaster.
What do students
do on the Net? They manage their personal finances; organize protest
movements; check facts; discuss zits; check the scores of their
favorite team and chat online whit superstars; organize groups to
save the rain forest; cast votes; learn more about the illness of
their little sister; go to a virtual birthday party; or get video
clips from a soon to be released movie.
In fact, digital
kids are learning precisely the social skills required for effective
interaction in the digital economy. For example they are learning
about peer relationships, teamwork, critical thinking fun, friendship
across geographies, self expression and self- confidence.
For all ages now,
"E-mail me" has become the parting expression of a generation.
Actually we need
to change our way of thinking and behaving. This means all of us
parents, educators, lawmakers, and business leaders.
In addition the digital
media is causing educators and students alike to shift to new ways
of thinking about teaching and learning.
For example education
is moving from linear to hypermedia learning, now N-Gen access to
information is more interactive and nonsequential.
Another one, is from
instruction to construction and discovery. This constructivist approach
to teaching and learning means that rather than assimilate knowledge
that is broadcast by an instructor, the learner constructs knowledge
anew. Constructivists argue that people learn best by doing rather
than simple by listening.
In addition the shift
from teacher-centered to learner-centered education does not suggest
that the teacher is suddenly playing a less important role. A teacher
is equally and valuable in the learner-centered context, for he
or she creates and structures what happens in the classroom.
Another point of
view is from absorbing material to learning how to navigate and
how to learn. This means learning how to synthesize, not just analyze.
N-Geners can assess and analyze facts a formidable challenge in
a data galaxy of easily accessible information sources. But more
important, they can synthesize, they construct higher-level structures
and mental images.
Finally today, many
boomers reinvent their knowledge base constantly. Learning has become
a continuous, life long process. The N-Gen is entering a world of
life long learning from day one, and unlike the schools of the boomers,
today´s educational system can anticipate how to prepare students
for the future learning.
Needless to say,
a whole generation of teachers needs to learn new tools, new approaches,
and new skills. This will be a challenge, not just because of resistance
to change by some teachers, they have to make this inevitable transition,
they may best turn to the generation raised on and immersed in new
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Lilia Patricia González Lima
Directora IDEA Psicopedagógica, Actividades
de Desarrollo DPG, ITESM CEM