By Laura C. Naranjo Muñoz - Student of English Teaching and Translation
Stop for a minute, and picture the way you have been approaching your last generation of students. Ask yourself the following question: Are you still standing on the old part of the bridge, waiting for a miracle so things would go back to what you, as an educator, believed as normal, basic or mandatory regarding the way you were taught and the way you thought you were supposed to continue teaching? Or are you aware that we ought to burn that bridge once and for all and cross to the other side, and be delighted by the look of the future of teaching? Burning those bridges means getting to know our new prospects and helping them like reading literature again.
This new generation of students have certain characteristics that are interesting and specific, for example, they are known for being avid gamers and music-goers, they care about trends, racial and ethical issues, they love messaging, they are quick researchers, they like to self teach by watching or even producing tutorials, and spend most of their time on social networks. They have no memory of the world as it existed before smartphones (Levine, 2012). Today’s high-speed digital devices enable them to always be connected to the Internet, their friends, and others. This connectivity permits students to communicate and collaborate in real-time regardless of physical location; to access a wealth of diverse information, including vast digital Literature collections; and to author or contribute content instantaneously to websites and weblogs. They will devote large amounts of time out-of-school browsing the Web. They have successfully mastered the technologies of e-mail to take full advantage of its gathering, organizing, and forwarding capabilities (Levin & Arafeh, 2002). Would you ask this generation to sit quietly, and simply open a book while you give them a lecture with nothing but your face as the only visual aid?
Therefore teachers have been receiving a lot of pressure to become well tech-trained teachers that enable an interactive teaching-learning process. Considering these debates over which medium facilitates learning for these generations of native digitalites, leads us to consider who they really are. This generation of non-readers are really experiencing a struggle in how to organize their millions of thoughts. They do not even read, nevertheless know how to analyze a text. How can they possibly be interested in Literature? The possible answer is the lack of meaningful reading materials in today's classrooms. They get to perform well in playful activities, but when it comes to spending some time reading the required pieces of literature, they prefer to watch a Tik-Tok video.
According to Seemiller & Grace (2016), in order to educate and graduate this generation effectively, educators must understand the overreaching characteristics, perspectives, and styles of these students. We must create a diagnosis of what motivates them, celebrate their strengths, and then commit to a compelling and generous prescription of teaching for their future and ours.
In order to burn the bridges that are limiting those teachers who prefer to remain within their comfort zone, it is important to understand basic differences and distinctions across our generation and generation Z for developing a pedagogy for teaching Literature that reaches this unique student population. Explore applications and supporting software to implement a gradual change. Replace PowerPoints with web pages containing novels and audios for short stories, encourage language use with open discussions and lively debate or well-structured group work. Move away from traditional teaching approaches to more learner-based learning and the appropriate literary strategies (Lazar, 2010). Include visual and interactive methods for creative teaching sessions.
Understanding basic generational differences are ways to limit the effects of generational conflict while keeping a balance while our students are engaged and motivated in learning Literature. The challenge for teachers is to move beyond traditional teaching-learning strategies and seek ways to teach in order to grasp the imagination, interest and understanding of this “connected” generation Z. (Cilliers, 2017).
MOXIE es el Canal de ULACIT (www.ulacit.ac.cr), producido por y para los estudiantes universitarios, en alianza con el medio periodístico independiente Delfino.cr, con el propósito de brindarles un espacio para generar y difundir sus ideas. Se llama Moxie - que en inglés urbano significa tener la capacidad de enfrentar las dificultades con inteligencia, audacia y valentía - en honor a nuestros alumnos, cuyo “moxie” los caracteriza.
Cilliers, E. (2017). The Challenges of Teaching Generation Z. International Journal of Sciences.
Levine A., (2012). Generation on a Tightrope: A Portrait of Today's College Student The Woodrow Wilson National Fellowship Foundation
Levin, D., & Arafeh, S. (2002, August 14). The digital disconnect: The widening gap between Internet-savvy students and their schools. www.pewinternet.org/ pdfs/P1P_ Schools_lnternet_Report.pdf
Lazar, G. (2010). Literature and Language Teaching: A Guide for Teachers and Trainers (Cambridge Teacher Training and Development) (1st ed.). Cambridge University Press
Seemiller, C., & Megan, G. (2017). Generation Z: Educating and Engaging the Next Generation of Students. Sage Journal, 22(3), 21–26. https://doi.org/10.1002/abc.21293
Schwieger, D., & Ladwig, C. (2018). Reaching and Retaining the Next Generation: Adapting to the Expectations of Gen Z in the Classroom. Information Systems