Dr. Jean Twenge makes a number of bold assertions regarding today’s young generation, assertions that are, unfortunately true to a large extent. The current young adult population according to Dr. Twenge, is supremely self confident, and mainly concerned with doing things their own way. Her assertions are given credence by the massive research she carries out. The example provided by Twenge of the frustrated community professor, is indeed a situation that typifies “Generation Me.” With self esteem scores that are through the roof, this generation believes they are already where they need to be, and also that they are capable of achieving well beyond members of the generations that have come before them. Generation me is therefore not in a position to display enough humility to learn from anyone else. This illusion of knowing it all, and having experienced it all, puts the generation at a disadvantage, as it results in a lack of respect for authority. It is indeed a case of feeling good before doing good, as the generation is more concerned with forming high expectations of themselves, rather than with meeting those high expectations. This sets the generation up for major disappointment, a feature that is responsible for the very high depression levels. Twenge highlights a key change in the personality of the average American, with a majority of the average citizens especially in the generation in question, becoming more and more self centered. This then has had the knock on effect of questioning authority, as the age old belief that “father knows best” has been thrown out the window and instead been replaced by the belief “I know best” a belief that as already mentioned, is solely responsible for the constant questioning of authority. Further, the generation has come to the conclusion that they do not need anyone’s approval to engage in practices they view as beneficial to them.
The explanation that teaching is out, especially in this digital generation does fit with my own views. The rise and proliferation of the internet as well as the situations described above, have made teaching difficult, as students feel that they either know more than the tutor, or that they can easily access information the tutor provides over the internet or from other digital sources. In other situations, students do not feel the need to concentrate on learning because they know they can easily cheat. The statistics provided by Twenge, indicating that whereas cheating was 34% in 1969, it had risen to 74% by 2002, are a damning indictment of the effect the rise of the digital era has had on education. Students find it easier to cheat through the use of mobile phones or other gadgets, or at times simply through the use of plagiarized material from the internet (Twenge 27). Further, as already mentioned, the lack of respect for authority also extends to tutors, with the typical attitude of “who cares what you think?” suggested by Twenge (26) being floated around quite alarmingly. Personally, I have at one point fallen victim of the typical generation me attitude and practices. I recall a particular class in which I for some reason disliked the tutor and as a result found myself deliberately skipping classes and instead opting to study online. Although I did not completely fail the class, the grade I got was not ideal. It is therefore plausible to argue that while generation me believes that “teaching’s out,” teaching most definitely is not out.
Twenge, Jean. Generation Me: Why Today’s Young Americans Are More Confident, Assertive, Entitled–and More Miserable than Ever Before. Free Press, 2007.