YES! Watch out, the kids know more than we think they do. They always have, and it's worth reflecting on the power of their voice as a generation.
In the September 2019 issue of Philadelphia magazine, teachers across the country were asked to compare their students today to students of the past. Here's what they came up with.
What I love about this infographic is that it captures all of the things I've learned about this incredibly aware, strong, and struggling Gen Z that I spend 40 hours a week with. Gen Z faces a world created by boomers and led by boomers. The amazing thing is, Gen Z as a generation knows what they're up against, and this awareness makes their voices stronger.
Here are the top ten descriptors that stand out to me.
My students are....
1. More stressed, more aware, less trusted
We make kids walk through metal detectors . It's traumatic . It's not OK, and they know it.
2. Dealing with the same issues but on a much bigger stage
25% of active shootings from 2000-2013 took place in schools. Today's students are not only the victims of gun violence, but they're also leading nation wide movements for the safety that they deserve. Talk about real bravery
Suicide is the third leading cause of death among teenagers according to the CDC . Too many kids are struggling in school with almost no support. When are we going to acknowledge suicide as the epidemic that it really is?
4. More empathetic
My students go out of their way to include each other. They approach adults with maturity and respect. Gone are the days of disrespectful jokes about women, gender identity, or sexuality.
5. Woke. They're much more socially conscious
They don't just know about global warming. They're marching for it. They don't just know about racism. They're critically aware of racism. They stick up for each other. They're embracing what's right over what's comfortable.
6. Just as crazy and weird.
They're still throwing pencils at the ceiling to make them stick. It's still annoying. It's still fun. And as an adult working in a high school, I also get to do weird shit like that with them.
Yes, this generation of students struggle, but they're choosing not to be the victims. Yes, my students have bad days, but I do too. Yes, the public school system has inequalities that run far and deep, but the incredible awareness that my students demonstrate on a daily basis is beyond anything you remember from your own high school experience.