Saturday, March 11, 2017

Grown-up millenials

We've all heard about the 'millenial' phenomenon by now, haven't we? That strange period we are currently going through where kids born in the eighties and nineties (although I think it's more nineties than eighties) are displaying certain characteristics never seen before, as a result of the internet age - the nose in their phones, not listening, not reading and wanting to be spoon-fed phenomenon?

Well, I've got news for you all. I've realised it's not just the kids. Don't put all the blame on them. No, no, no. I have personal and intimate experience of dealing with some fully grown forty to fifty-year-old, matured in wine, cheese head millenials with more holes in their memories than a lump of good Edam. You don't believe me? Well, I have proof...indisputable, unputdownable (oh no, that's books isn't it?), irrefutable proof. You see, I know them; lots of them.

Let me explain. My day job is to teach Academic Writing and Business Communication at the university in Rotterdam and also for students at the University of Amsterdam. Now without going into too many details, many of these students are not youngsters, but PhDers and Research Master's students who have returned to academia at a later stage in their lives, for what reason I don't really know, as I tend not to have time to get involved in their personal lives. By the way, the same goes for me too in their eyes.

When I go into class, I think they regard me as some kind of android. I have no existence outside the classroom. This conviction is so strong that if I inadvertently bump into one of them elsewhere in my other guise as a human being, they don't quite know how to handle it. It's true!

Anyway, that's beside this particular point. Where was I? Ah yes, Edam cheese. The truth of the matter is they are just as bad as the teenagers. When I teach their classes, half the time they are fiddling with their phones under the desks (at least I think that's what they're doing; I dread to think what else it might be), or they're checking their Twitter or Facebook messages on their tablets. Then they they seem to have to rush out of the room for urgent calls in a sort of cyclic rota system throughout the lesson. I swear they've arranged it all in advance! There's no pretence that they need the loo; no, nothing as subtle as that. They have about as much finesse as a bull in a china shop and the tact of a northerner stripped of his charm (apologies to any northerners reading this, but you're much better, I promise). This of course means that they don't listen, they don't read, and they don't know what they're supposed to be doing at the end of the class, and then they blame me when things go wrong. They do. It leaves me speechless. The Edam cheese analogy is no joke; it really isn't, Any gems of information I impart seem to disappear into the holes and out the other side. Nothing is retained.

Then there are the written assignments that have to be submitted online. After dealing with the torrent of emails they dump on me when they realise in panic that they haven't understood (for that, read 'listened to') the assignment and the deadline is a matter of hours away, I then start receiving their offerings. If that's what you can call them. I have a very strong suspicion some of them might be trying to write their theses, or at least their papers, on their smartphones. I mean it! I say this because I'm totally convinced they do their assignments on them.

Firstly, they manage to overlook instructions that are written in capital letters, bold type and outsize fonts, which are as clear as flashing neon signs without the neon; secondly, they can be guaranteed to upload them in the wrong style format even though every assignment has aforesaid neon sign equivalents telling them how to do it, and finally the end result is so shoddy, messy and badly presented that I cannot believe they have the temerity to send them in as an academic writing or business document.

Now everyone makes the odd typo (see my tweets, says she hanging her head in shame), but these, dear readers, these are supposed to be serious, graded assignments. I am, I have to say, flabbergasted. This evening (and after this I'll shut up, climb down of my high horse and shuffle off to bed) I read an assignment where the word 'synopsis' was spelt in each of the following ways: synops, synopse, sinopsys, and synopsise. And all in one paragraph. Yes.

So, my friends, you want to tell me about a millenial generation? I'm not buying it. I think it's a complete millenial society, or should I call it a symptom of close encounters of the Edam kind?

Happy Sunday everyone! I'll be spending at least some of the day trying to unscramble gobbledegook and answering daft questions that Google has much more patience with than I have.




25 comments:

  1. Very interesting post Val, thanks for sharing x

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    1. I think I was actually off-loading rather than sharing, Angela, but thank you! :)

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  2. Maybe there is nothing to blame but the mere fact that there are holes in academia itself ...
    I think we are in the brink of change �� xx

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    1. Haha, Dale. I think I'm too tired to follow that line of thought...edamacia, instead of academia...maybe? :) xx

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  3. I can't believe they are allowed to use their phones etc..in a lecture,so rude. I have watched Parliament and the House of Commons and they are all sitting probably on Facebook while other members are talking. It's just the times we live in.

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    1. It is both rude and a waste of all of our time, Anne. I agree, but yes, a sign of the times!

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  4. I am not at all surprised by what you have written. Personally, I think we are doomed! Interaction between people is dwindling at an alarming rate. It is as if we have completely lost the plot.

    My own office is like a library, I am so glad I work out of it, or from home and don't have to visit often. People prefer to email the person they sit next to rather than speak to them. Their grammar is often appalling.

    Only last week, I went out to a restaurant and was astounded that young parents were teaching their baby son to use a mobile phone. He could barely sit up in the high chair!

    We are losing the art of communication, it is very sad. Standards are dropping, no scratch that, they have dropped, and who knows what we will be like in the next five or ten years!

    Good post, thank you for sharing.

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    1. I'm glad I'm not the only one who is appalled by the sloppy spelling and grammar, Maria. Thanks for your thoughtful comment, and the very idea of giving a baby a smartphone....no!

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  5. Haha, I can so relate to this! During my brief stint in a school recently, the first order of the day was wrestling all their phones off them. I know you teach adults, but can you not have a class discussion about this and get them to put the phones away for the lessson, after they are supposed to be adults capable of reason. But then I think that many people think they (or their lives) are too important to be offline for a couple of hours. It must be very frustrating xxxxx

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    1. Fran, I really have tried, but they tell me they have to keep them on as most of them work as well and they need to be able to receive messages of, in some cases, calls....what can I do? Since the courses are not mandatory, I have little control - except when it comes to marking their assignments...haha *evil grin* xxx

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  6. I agree with Fran and Anne, it's rude of your 'students' to be using mobile phones and tablets in a class and I think that you should generate a conversation about this to come to an agreement with them (the students) to put them away for the duration. You must be exhausted at the end of each session knowing that it's a waste of your time talking! xx

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    1. It's true, Carol, but as I said to Fran, they always have some 'valid' excuse about why they have to keep them on, and others use them instead of a laptop for the course materials...anyway, there's always some excuse and as an external lecturer, I cannot be too heavy handed, much as I'd like to be! I had fun writing this post, though, so that did me good! xx

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  7. Having been an external examiner for a Masters Course (in my previous life) i can feel your pain. I was sent twaddle, passed by tutors (not wanting to admit their students hadn't listened, maybe) - which I failed. And once added a comment that if students didn't know the difference between a sentence and a paragraph, then they needed learning support. It didn't make me popular - but standards improved. These students needed to be able to write reports for Courts - twaddle was simply not acceptable.

    And once, when speaking at a conference, when someone in the audience took a phone call, I stopped speaking to wait for her to finish the call. It made the point. (I wasn't always a dragon, honest!!)

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    1. Oh excellent, Jo! Well done you! One thing I can say in favour of my own students is that at least they leave the room when they take a call, but that in itself is a disruption. I also get a certain amount of revenge when it comes to marking the twaddle and poor spelling! And you? A dragon? Perish the thought! :)

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  8. The degeneration of our language is appalling, and where will it end? Sometimes I wonder if the electronic communication is leading us into a repeat of the Dark Ages! Standards are slipping as such an alarming rate, perhaps only a few people will be left to continue the culture...

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    1. It worries me at times too, Patricia. When I see essays written where the only punctuation used is the occasional comma, and often there is none at all, I worry what has happened to people's concept of written communication. Do they never think about the reader?

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  9. Humorous, but so true! I see the same thing with writers who email or message me for advice, or should I say, "advise," and expect me to open doors for them that they are either too lazy (or "to" to quote them), or too clueless to push. Stick with it, Val. Some of them will get it! (Won't they?)

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    1. It's true, Steph! And I only need to get through to one or two to make it worth it :)

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  10. It's no good, Val, civilisation as we know it is coming to and end. Is it our age that makes us think like this? Is it the collapse of the West? Is it global warming? Who knows....

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    1. Hmm, Stephanie, I wonder if perhaps it's the first part mostly? I sort of remember my parents bemoaning the state of the world, youth, the Cold War, the Common Market...need I go on? It sort of begins to sound familiar, but as the the Millenials...I think there really is something in that :)

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    2. Having said all that, I can't talk! See my typos here! And that proves my point. I'm typing on the iPad...;)

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  11. A lovely post, Val. My heart goes out to you, and all those who posted before me have managed to say everything else I would have done!

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    1. Maybe it's time I retired, Roger :) I would if I could!

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  12. I've been trying to work out if I am a millenial. I'm happy to say it looks like I'm not :) I'm slightly addicted to my phone and the internet but not that much.

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    1. Ha, Stu no! I don't think you are a millenial..you listen! You wouldn't be able to write what you do if you were one :) One of my most recent millenials was my age too! It's an attitude of mind, really ;)

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