Generation gap

24 Sep
Mind the Gap

Photo by Buh Snarf on Flickr (Creative Commons)

Don’t they grow up quickly?’

We now have confirmation that the opposite is true: that young people are growing up more slowly than ever before. 25 now appears to be the start of adulthood (not 16, or 18, or even 21).

I don’t mean to sound preachy since growing up is such a vital experience that no one should ever feel they’ve completed the journey.

But I do feel some culture shock  because of the generation gap. One of these happens when students complain about gaps in the timetable, as if university were only about classes and that learning is a transaction that can be constrained into as few hours as possible.

Perhaps this comes with the marketisation of higher education (‘I’ve paid my fees, just give me a good degree for minimum effort’). But what about the limits of markets? Do markets explain how we make friends and fall in love? Can consumerism explain how we gain jobs and develop careers? Do businesses control ever aspect of our lives and thoughts?

The uncomfortable truth is that learning happens in the gaps (it’s when we learn most about ourselves) and that mistakes are an essential prelude to successful achievement. We need more gaps, not fewer, if we’re to think and invent ourselves out of our prison cells.

Please do mind the gap, we don’t want any accidents here. But if you’re not willing to take a risk and move forward, then you’re not learning and developing.

3 Responses to “Generation gap”

  1. David G H Phillips 17/10/2013 at 9:37 am #

    Yes, I agree but also want to look in the mirror. Are we teaching a trade at university?
    I think back to the last cohort I taught in the UK.
    Did I challenge thinking about privacy in a Big Data era or machine understanding in an age of semantic computing? Was the idea that the statements students make with their dress code also a statement that their clothes could make to each other?
    Is the idea of digital ghettos an issue for public relations as big as ethics in corporate affairs?
    These are questions that students should encounter and I failed.
    Perhaps I too needed a sabbatical.

    • Richard Bailey 17/10/2013 at 9:57 am #

      Failure is another word that’s been banished from the educator’s vocabularly – yet as you suggest we learn so much from our failures. Never stop learning (and never stop failing)!


  1. W00T I’ve Signed Up for a MOOC | Social Web Thing - 08/03/2014

    […] in a lecture theatre. This raises lots of questions about quality, technology, assessment and the marketisation of education, which although fascinating, in all truthfulness are beyond the scope of this […]

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