Fred Bonner Lecture on Teaching Millenials in Higher Education 04.01.10

Fred A. Bonner, II


Texas A&M

Thursday, April 1, 2010



I found this lecture very intriguing! First of all, I didn't realize that we had to rsvp, so I am so thankful that they let me walk in. Secondly, it was neat to have thirteen other locations participating remotely, although I do think the fact that we were on camera and being videotaped inhibited the consumption of food, which by the way was very delicious!

Bonner made me aware of the stereotypical characteristics of the millenial generation and the three preceding generations. As a border line Gen X and Millenial, I found that I was trying to see which of the characteristics were true of me. Bonner also pointed out that these characteristics can be stereotypical and not the typical experiences for all students, especially minority students. In fact, Latino and African American Millenials may not affirm the characteristic of feeling special because political, social, and economic factors have given these individuals that they are not special and that they do not necessarily belong. Moreover, parents of these individuals may not have the same social, emotional, and financial capital to hover and support their children as their white counterparts, and these actions are not indicative of the amount of love for their children but rather a lack of resources and opportunity to provide in the same manner. As a teacher, we need to be aware of the characteristics of this generation, but we also need to not accept them blindly but rather recognize the diversity in individuals.

One of the most powerful quotations that I think I will take from Bonner was, "Differences are not deficits." They are merely differences and we need to find the strength in them to use them as assets.

I am hoping that I can take what I have learned from this lecture about the characteristics of millenials and the implications for this generation in teaching and learning and converse with my colleagues about how we can use this information for next year.

I wonder about what happens when generations meet in the classroom - how does it affect teaching and learning? Someone from another campus asked a very important question - why is it that the teacher is always expected to change and adapt to meet the students' needs? Why aren't students expected to adapt as well? I am thinking that it would be helpful for students to understand that their teachers bring a different perspective to the world from them, and that these differences again are not deficits but rather caveats for conversation. If we talk about understanding diversity and celebrating the differences in others, then I'm thinking that we also need to be aware of the differences that we teachers bring to the classroom.

Since my research interests are around teacher leadership and supervision, I wonder how the various generations impact the way in which we not only teach but also how we supervise since teaching and learning are parts of supervision.


"Teaching and Advising the Millenial Generation in Higher Education"


·      Generational cohorts are typically defined by American pop culture.

·      This generation has sociocultural markers as well as pop culture markers.

o   These are the "Will & Grace" students, so they don't seem to pause like other generations when we talk about LGTB issues, etc.

·      "Differences are not deficits."


Millenials: Characteristic Brainstorm from the audience

Entitled, spoiled, technologically addicted, out of the box,


·      Know who they are and gain an appreciation of their differences

·      Untangled the differences



Silents (Greatest) 1925-1942

·      Bob Hope, Betty Crocker, Pearl Harbor, Normandy, Bay of Pics, Things were scarce (Wars and deptression), loyal, common goal oriented, faith in institutions, military experience, top-down management


Boomers 1943-1960

·      JFK, Watergate, Things tv, jobs


Thirteeners (X) 1961-1981

·      Bill Clinton, Michael Jordon, Global (thanks to media)media, pcs, video games, violence, skepticism, resourcefulness, independent, skill-valuing, self-commanding


Millenials 1982 - 2002

·      Prince William, Columbine,


·      Most diverse racially in college going generations

·      Outlook (hopeful), Work Ethic (Determined) View of authority (Equals), Leadership by (Pulling together), Change (Fluid), Own Work (Cut and past)

·      Special, sheltered, confident, team-oriented, conventional, pressured, achieving, (Howe & Strauss, 2000)

·      This is the "Baby on Board" generation. They are very sheltered - safe zones, etc. They are confident because they are told that they are the smartest generation.

·      Socially liberal politically conservative.

·      Like structure and rules b/c they listen to their parents.

·      A generation of contradictions:

o   High-achieving and performance vs. low autonomy and emotional intelligence

o   Technologically facile and connected vs alientation and disengaged

o   Community/volunteer service orientation vs self interested and sense of entitlement

o   Respect for authority and traditions vs lack of ethical and moral center "Whateverism"

o   Renewed interest in spirituality vs materialism and consumerism

o   More savvy (violence, sex, drugs, diversity) vs fewer coping and conflict resolution skills


Teaching and Learning:


·      guide on the side

·      teacher as coach and mentor

·      learner-centered

·      constructivist approach

·      discovery methods

·      tailored and option-rich learning (Skiba & Barton, 2006) - article


·      sage on the stage

·      lectures and Powerpoint

·      Authoritarian model of teaching

·      Acquisition on facts, Logical sequencing of knowledge, memorization, repetition, one size fits all

Teaching and Learning:

Digital Literacy:

·      They seek immediate information. Different concepts of plagiarism because of the availability and readiness of content.

Experiential and Engaging:

·      They are not passive learners and they don't wait to learn. How can it have that just in time learning?

Interactivity and Collaboration

·      Like groups, more social

Immediacy, Connectivity, and Communications

·      Multi-channel forms of communication

Negotiated Syllabi


·      Google Millenials and Obama


·      Millenials Rising

·      When Hope and Fear Collide