OPINION: Lessons for teachers in how Gen Z see the world

Peter FiorenzaGeraldton Guardian
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In my job as a teacher, I constantly remind myself of the privilege I have.

When I first started in the classroom almost 20 years ago (something I consider a relatively short time), I remember a much older staff member relaying what someone had said to her when she started: “As teachers we are very privileged, because parents have allowed us to have an influence on the development of their children.”

And this continues to resonate with me each and every day.

Even though some in the community believe our education system is not keeping up with the times, I believe it is, simply because it has to be an evolving beast.

Why? Well, in my time, I have taught thousands of teenagers and for some I have hit the mark, and with others, not so.

I am, however, astounded when I run into past students who I thought I struggled with, and they tell me I actually did a good job.

So, go figure.

And if someone in my profession tells you it eventually comes together and makes sense, I beg to differ.

The students I had when I first started out are now in their 30s and have attitudes and working habits that could not be more dissimilar than the group I have today.

Although the basics of the curriculum may seem much the same, delivery is a whole new ball game, and I continually need to reinvent myself as a facilitator of education.

When the kids in your classroom don’t watch television, the evening news, or view any news for that matter, and seldom even sit and chat with their parents, even though they hardly move out of their homes and off their devices, you have to adapt.

I’m not saying all teenagers are like this, but it probably varies in degrees.

In many ways, though, these kids seem to have, in abundance, two qualities that I admire: tolerance and acceptance.

The fact these youngsters often tend to have a more inclusive view of the world than I do, although initially frustrating, can really be refreshing and insightful.

I am often concerned that, on many occasions, they don’t offer an opinion, but have come to realise this is somewhat part of their DNA.

I’m suggesting that by not offering an opinion, they are showing they value the views of others and can accept just that.

I reckon what I say and do in front of them needs to allow them to show who they are. And I think this relationship will benefit us both. What a privilege.

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