One thing I find myself emphasizing frequently is that today's students often need access to a different learning paths than what is the daily reality in some classrooms. Compounding matters is that Generation Z (those born between 1996 and 2010) is hot on the heels of the Millennials - and many classrooms never changed their approach for THAT group! And Generation Z...well, they bring some great reasons to shake up the status quo.
The video above is the creative rendering that came out of an experience of Paige and Frankie, the two main characters of Bizaardvark. Trapped in the back of an ice cream truck, they have just enough battery life left to send one text message. Instead of sending "Help" or another string of text, an emoji was sent...and it was the wrong emoji - inspiring the creative duo to pen the tune "Oops, Wrong Emoji" in the video above. As I watched this episode with my resident member of Generation Z, I noted the conversation between the chartacters as they discussed the choice to use emojis over words. It made me think...
In an earlier post, I referenced the book Brain Rules. As I watched this episode of Bizaardvark, I thought about the rules regarding gender, attention and most significantly, vision. In this section of the book, Media explains the value of using pictures to help with information retention. Text alone is less effiicient than pictures. To our brains, there are no words. The brain sees words as tiny pictures. This explains why some of us get stuck when a word is misspelled - it just looks wrong....and our brains struggle.
"Words are only postage stamps delivering the object for you to unwrap"
Information communicated via pictures is not only the preferred means of comminication by Generation Z, it has been proven to be "superior in capturing attention" (Brain Rules 196)
So what are we, as educators, doing about it?
Traditional methods of pedagogy often fall short when it comes to educating those in Generation Z.
This generation is about doing and creating. Are we embedding enough of these opportunities into our classrooms? They are civic minded entreprenuers who, believe it or not, do think about global issues. Are we creating classrooms that allow them to explore these issues and solve real-world problems? As I started this post with, they send and receive information with pictures. Are we allowing them the chances to illustrate their mastery of the content and take visual notes or are we forcing them to copy copius amounts of words? There are still classrooms where teachers complain when students doodle...a practice that is sometimes forbidden - even punished!
There is so much about the way Generation Z learns that is supported by neuroscience, and I do see many educators in our district making strides to account for the different learning styles of their students as they plan activities and content delivery. As of late, those I see making the most pronounced effort to change (based on both observation and our district's Be Awesome applications) are secondary teachers - and that is a great thing for Generation Z.