Generation Z and Traditional Education

Generation Z is one of the first generations to have Internet technology available from a very young age; they can be defined as post-literate and post-logical. Many teachers complain about the lack of attention from their students, but this is only happening because of some old teaching methods that imply passive models of communication. Teachers must reinvent and adapt, to gain better skills in mastering the process of education and evaluation.

“Schools are 19th Century institutions using 20th Century buildings to teach 21st Century students and we wonder why traditional education sometimes struggles to connect. So, if they don’t learn the way we teach, then let’s teach the way they learn.”– Mark McCrindle

As a teacher, it has no point in thinking that you can anticipate the students’ way of living or the degree of education, nor the situations they might confront themselves during school time; but, as “mind trainers” in education, we can help our student to acquire a set of skills to be applied in real life, becoming functional adults. This fact can be easily accomplished during English classes, by using modern techniques and methods like The Silent Way, Communicative Approach, or Suggestopedia, and, nonetheless, by using technology instead of books, online worksheets, poetry, posters, images, leaflets, group projects, song lyrics instead of old texts which they cannot identify themselves with.

The process of evaluation is a complex one, that imposes a systemic approach to the whole didactic process. Yet, the stiffness of a traditional type of training, based on a good memory, obedience, imposing knowledge, as well as imposing a certain way of thinking, demonstrated the need to implement new approach methods of the whole process, such as educational alternatives Waldorf, Montessori or Step by Step. A “blackboard-chalk-teacher” approach is no longer appropriate these days, as it used to be a couple of generations ago, even though the “today” teachers are the result of that type of approach, which, apparently worked back then. The “correct” approach for generation Z is the Person-centered Approach, as demonstrated by Waldorf Education in 1919, which was promoted by R. Steiner and, in whose conception, the student must be known at a deeper level, holistically, to give him wings to rise.

Role-play is becoming more and more used during English classes because the student could find himself/herself facing possible situations from real life. In this case, the students have the chance of being spontaneous, creative in a well-known environment, without the fear of being over-corrected or punished with bad marks, because the teacher would interfere only to provide certain vocabulary, not to lead the conversation. Waldorf Alternative is mostly based on stimulating the natural spirit of the child as well as his creative part to underline his/her overall progress, as a whole human being, and to encourage the student to ask for help, to appreciate his work and autocorrect.

A more traditional approach, the one concerning grammar, proved itself to be inefficient in time because, placed in a real-life situation, and even though they mastered grammar rules, students weren’t able to communicate. So, the need to combine different approaches began to be felt, proving, once again that “the grammar-translation method” doesn’t work with young students; in their case, the Communicative Approach is the best choice. Through everyday conversations, centered on the particularities of every student, a teacher can produce instinctual English speakers. It’s only years later that the teacher can introduce grammar, giving students the chance to correct their possible mistakes.

This demonstrates that the evaluation should not be made only to verify the information provided in the previous lessons, but also to be sure of the child’s progress, supporting the uniqueness and instinct in combining information regarding grammar, vocabulary, and literature. A good teacher evaluates all students, during every class, making sure that a good atmosphere is provided, and combining the two types of methods to adapt to every pupil, every class, every situation.


prof. Anca Laura Ilie

Liceul Tehnologic Elena Caragiani, Tecuci (Galaţi) , România
Profil iTeach:

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