As YA writers, we need to understand our audience. As teachers, we need to understand our students and their needs. As adult members of society, we need to truly see what this generation has to offer and remember to be a positive role model because – as the saying goes – they are the future.
This is why I am presenting this Mindset List from the Class of 2011.
According to the Class of 2011:
- Thanks to social networking sites, friendships can form and end without ever having to meet face to face.
- Any publicity is good publicity.
- We fall in and out of love on a day to day basis.
- It’s acceptable to have curves.
- Racism still very much exists.
- If a fight breaks out in a classroom, 20 student cell phones are simultaneously recording it to share later.
- Role models are chosen for their wealth and notoriety, not their character.
- The best battles are fought over text message.
- There is no such thing as privacy. The most intimate moments are broadcast over on the Internet.
- How can parents complain we’re spoiled, when they continue to buy us things?
- There are no truly “good” people anymore. Everyone has selfish motives.
- Nothing is “real.” Media images are air-brushed. “Reality” TV is scripted. People are never who or what they seem.
- Text addiction is a common problem.
- There are text “stalkers” and text “bullies.”
- A date night is still dinner and a movie.
- Music is not more violent, sexual, or drug-related than in the past, it’s just more explicit.
- We say what we mean.
- Boys and girls wear “skinny” jeans.
- Boys and girls wear make-up.
- College is an expectation, not an option.
- Homosexuality is more acceptable.
- Technology is a lifeline. We’d be lost without it.
- Our deepest, most intense conversations happen over text message. We don’t always know how to communicate face-to-face.
- The more drama, the better.
- Because of technology, we eat more and move less.
This list represents a few of my own observations, but mostly consists of the remarks and insights that resulted from an hour of discussion with one of my high school classes. While the information itself is very interesting, the best part of this activity was watching the passion emerge from my students when discussing the topic they know best – themselves. I watched them evaluate and analyze themselves and their world and also explain, clarify, and defend their actions, thoughts, and opinions. I saw a group of people, struggling to understand their place in society and why they and their world is the way it is. Sometimes I saw anger. Sometimes I saw pride.
They want adults to understand them. They realize they are different from their parents, but they appreciate and recognize their hard work. To Many of them, their parents are their role models. They are disgusted by the media’s obsession with negative news and find that there truly are no celebrity role models for their generation, with the exception of a few artists (Alicia Keyes was mentioned). They are frustrated that a four-year college is an expectation when some of them do not feel that that is where they belong. They see what is wrong with the world and they want to change it.
I love that about them. I want to get them to think about their world, their actions, and most importantly, their place in it. And as adults, we need to think about these things, too. What does it all mean?