Friday, April 21, 2006

the millennials & the fourth turning

Tonight I heard a breathless paraphrase of the future as prophesized by William Strauss and Neil Howe, authors of The Fourth Turning and Millennials Rising, and it didn't quite add up to me. Especially the stuff about the Millennials, the generation born in 1980s and 1990s. The argument is that this is a generation that was highly nurtured in their childhood, and that they'll grow up and save the world.

Yet it was during the late 80s and early 90s when the crack epidemic decimated black communities, and nurturing was in short supply for the children who suffered through it. It's also spans the era when school desgregation failed and blacks and white children became even more isolated from one another than they had been before Brown v. Board.

It's funny how we whites think the world begins and ends with us.


trAcy said...

tho, often when i encounter a child whose license says they are 16 to 26 or so years old, and that child is white, they don't seem at all like people who would save anything but their playstation/cellphone/etc., suped-up wanna-be-racer hondas and themselves.

i am curious about that book you're citing. . .as when i hear "very nurtured," i think "spoiled (suburban) rotten." (see above.)

every day a friend of mine who fought in world war 2 and is now driving a school bus in the inner city (where he lives) for extra cash for a film project calls to update me on "this generation."

he blames their disrespect on the Dr. (Benjamin) Spock childrearing theory that was popular when you and i were kids. . but it came out in 1946. i guess the "blamed" part is how spock discounted discipline in lieu of children's expressing themselves.

kids "these days" don't respect authority, no. not even when it's warranted, but like you said, it's something you have to grow up with to understand.

Anonymous said...

The Millenials will save mankind. Interesting. That flies in the face of all sorts of anecdotal evidence that suggest our "highly nurtured" saviors are little more than unimaginative, overly sheltered, self-absorbed and horribly spoiled.

Employers are finding Millenials are unwilling and unable to take initiative, and they think they deserve praise for completing the most mundane tasks. A few months ago, the NY Times reported on students e-mailing college professors for classes. Much of the article focused on how the tone of these e-mails ranged from rude and demanding to outright helplessness. One student wanted to know what type of notebook was best for taking notes.

These kids are going to save us? God help us all.

joe said...

Interesting input. I must confess, I haven't been following the story. I just pick up little pieces here and there. I recall first hearing about it on a news show, and now that you mention it, I recall that a few frustrated employers were quoted. It's just funny to hear from my perspective, because most of the young folks in that age range who I know are black and poor and urban and their experiences don't correspond in any way with what the media has been hyping.