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There are numerous cultural differences between generations that can be attributed to various social conditions, access to educational resources, the extent to which digital technology is developed, and other factors. Generational differences are often discussed in the context of work, whereas the way that they impact school culture also presents an interesting topic for research. The paper analyzes such age groups as baby boomers and millennials in school culture with reference to interpersonal behavior models proposed by Argyris and Schön (Bolman & Deal, 2017).
Baby boomers are among the most represented generational cohorts in the United States. Even though the descriptions of the group may vary, the majority of researchers define baby boomers as people born “between the middle of the 1940s and 1964” (Beauchamp & Barnes, 2015). The generation under analysis is regarded as the largest age group; for instance, eight years ago, baby boomers presented more than a quarter of the U. S. population (Beauchamp & Barnes, 2015). Nowadays, many school and university teachers in the country belong to the age group, which explains the great influence that baby boomers still have on school culture.
Millennials are another age group presenting a significant part of the global population. Importantly, it is believed that the birth year ranges used to define the group vary depending on the type of sources. According to Beauchamp and Barnes (2015), academic studies tend to utilize birth years of 1978 to 1999, whereas modern media widen the range and regard children born before 2004 as millennials as well. Just like baby boomers, millennials comprise at least 25% of the U.S. citizens (Bartz, Thompson, & Rice, 2017). In the modern school culture, millennials act as young teachers that are often supervised by Baby Boomers.
The Use of Technology
The role that the two age groups play in school culture is strictly connected with their computer skills. The successful work of school counselors has a major impact on the relationships between school staff members and students’ motivation to learn. As stated by Navin and Dale (2016), millennials who work as school counselors use a wide range of ways to contact parents (e-mails, phone calls, social media, etc.), whereas baby boomers actively make phone calls and handwritten notes.
Apart from that, this difference in computer literacy levels can present a barrier to professional growth for some education specialists. In special education, the proper use of assistive technology is among the cornerstones of children’s academic success. Therefore, school culture in special education is more impacted by millennials who gain new computer skills faster than their older colleagues (Balderaz & Rosenblatt, 2016).
Relationships with Students’ Parents
The set of practices used in collaboration between school specialists and students’ parents presents an important part of school culture, and it can be suggested that the choice of communication strategies depends on age. According to Navin and Dale (2016), baby boomers seem to have an advantage over millennials in this regard due to their professional, personal, and parenting experience.
Interestingly, some education specialists younger than thirty-six believe that children’s parents have some negative stereotypes about their professionalism, and it may impact their job satisfaction levels (Navin & Dale, 2016). Hiring people with well-developed interpersonal skills remains critical for success, and emotional intelligence helps the discussed specialists improve school culture (Bolman & Deal, 2017). Being younger and less experienced, millennials who work in school settings sometimes lack clear strategies helping to resolve conflicts.
Communication with Students
Analyzing school culture and factors that shape it, it is pivotal to focus on communication between students and education specialists since it is strictly interconnected with learning outcomes and is indicative of teachers’ professionalism. Communication strategies that teachers or counselors choose may vary, but millennials tend to be better at relating their problems to those of students than baby boomers due to the age of their own children and good computer skills (Navin & Dale, 2016). Importantly, millennial teachers value change and quickly adapt to different circumstances, which helps them work with children from various social groups (Bartz et al., 2017).
It is important that the representatives of the age groups under discussion tend to have different opinions about diversity and equality, and it can affect teacher-student relationships. Instead of being open to new experiences, baby boomers respect strict rules, whereas some millennials treat students as equals (Bartz et al., 2017). Important perceptual differences that define the approaches to teacher-student communication and impact its quality and outcomes include technological literacy. Thus, teachers who are millennials “prefer fast-paced communications”, which helps them better organize communication with modern students (Bartz et al., 2017, p. 3).
From my experience as a school student, younger teachers make communication technologically-oriented and less emotional, and it encourages students to be more responsible when organizing their individual work.
In the end, the differences between baby boomers and millennials relate to various aspects of school culture. In terms of relationships with other stakeholders, the former often rely on their past experience and authority, which can sometimes be a sign of distorted self-descriptions (Bolman & Deal, 2017). As it is shown in the analysis, teachers from these age groups can be effective partners despite having different opinions about youth lifestyle trends, diversity, and communication strategies that education specialists should use.
Balderaz, L., & Rosenblatt, K. (2016). Preparing special educators to use mobile technology: A review of the literature. Interaction Design and Architecture(s) Journal, 28, 34-48.
Bartz, D., Thompson, K., & Rice, P. (2017). Enhancing the effectiveness of millennial teachers through principals using performance management. National Forum of Educational Administration and Supervision Journal, 35(4), 1-9.
Beauchamp, M. B., & Barnes, D. C. (2015). Delighting baby boomers and millennials: Factors that matter most. Journal of Marketing Theory and Practice, 23(3), 338-350.
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Bolman, L. G., & Deal, T. E. (2017). The human resource frame. In L. G. Bolman & T. E. Deal (Eds.), Reframing organizations: Artistry, choice, and leadership (6th ed.) (pp. 118-187). San Francisco, CA: Jossey-Bass.
Navin, L., & Dale, D. (2016). Generational diversity: From millennials to baby boomers. ASCA School Counselor Magazine, 31-32. Web.