What do the Millennials Really Want from University Professors and Grade School Teachers?
I love teaching and am a passionate teacher. I enjoy relating information and knowledge to students, facilitating the acquisition process, and fostering transformative teaching pedagogy. Teaching moves me and shapes my identity and interactions with my students, colleagues, and people around me. I have been a teacher for 15 years and have taught University, Seminary, and High School students.
Similarly, I love teaching young people and the millennial generation, in particular.(Although I love teaching a class in which the student body is multi-generational, culturally diverse, and racially different, I love teaching students who would like to see a connection between the academic life and the everyday life experience.)
During my journey as a teacher, mentor, role model, and friend to my students, I have made five key observations I would like to share with you below; my observations include my interactions with students inside and outside of the classroom. I believe effective teaching and lasting mentorship also take place outside of the classroom.
1. Students want to know more than the content of the subject you are teaching them–be it English, Theology, Sociology, History, Economics, etc. They want to know how a story from a novel in a literature class, for example, relates to real life situations and the implications of the subject content upon their personal life, choices, and preferences, and their everyday interactions and communication with other people in their life. This is the way they define effective and relational teaching.
2. This group of young men and women are looking for direction and guidance, mentorship and othermothering. As their instructor, they long to see in you an individual whom they can trust and one who can embody hope, resilience, compassion, relationality, sympathy, civility, hospitality, and understanding. Many of them desire you to be their mentor and role model; they may never reveal that to you. Perhaps, you may have to take the initiative and the lead to offer your mentoring service to them and woo them to yourself so you help them to explore their full potential. For them, teaching means relationship and the modelling of love and compassion.
3. This group of young individuals are both skeptical and optimistic about life and their future. Their skepticism has to do about their fear of failure. They do not want to experience failures and disappointments in life nor do they want to see their friends failed. They want success and to be successful in all of their endeavors. Their optimism is based upon their collective sense of self-confidence, self-worth, and independence. They’re not afraid to explore future possibilities and navigate through different options this life has to offer to them. From this viewpoint, they interpret teaching as that which provides human hope and human empowerment.
4. They’re looking for answers about life’s big questions pertaining to ethical and moral choices, and pertinent issues concerning war, death, oppression, justice, life after death, the meaning of life, peace at home and peace in the world, etc. As their teacher, they want you to give them an answer to these challenges of life and foster empowering hope and resistance; they also anticipate that you would guide them through the tough times and to orient them to find the right response to these vital matters in life. It does not matter what subject you teach; if you provide the space, access, resources, and freedom to your students to flourish in life, they will be open and vulnerable to you. From this perspective, students define teaching as consisting of life adventures and life explorations.
5. Finally, this generation of students want more than passing your class with an A. While academic excellence does matter to them, they want to relate to real life situations the academic life and personal goals.They’re thirsty for knowledge, understanding, and practical wisdom to experience every day’s challenges. Their desire is from you is to guide them to nurture the life of the mind and the life of the human experience and relationships. From this point of view, they interpret teaching as both an intellectual exercise and practical reality.