Not Everything Changes with the Next Generation of Learners


Today, Erik Palmer (2016) gave me new hope. He said what I've been thinking for the past few years as I watched my own child routinely employ her extended appendage_her iPhone ' since the first day we gave it to her as she left the fifth grade. Yes, we wanted her to have some independence, and to be able to call if she needed anything as she embarked on middle school. Lately, now at sixteen, observations of her evolving habits with her friends made me begin to wonder if what my parents, her grandparents, were prophesizing would be realized. They said things like, 'Kids don't talk anymore; they only text.' I know this is the case, as when she is engrossed in her phone, nothing else seems to matter. I would validate both my parents and my child knowing that the latest generation would define society in a new way, and that we, too, had to find our places in this world of fast paced technology. Keep up, or get left behind was what I kept thinking. I've been on the side of leadership for nearly my entire career. I knew that I would find my way. However, I also worried that my parents were prophets, and that the things I valued about my own education would find a way to disappear. As I said, Palmer (2016) gave me new hope.

In his article '4 Predictions for Students' Tomorrows,' Palmer (2016) is straightforward letting us know his forecast for the future. I smiled as I read each in detail knowing that much of what made me a strong leader was embedded in the things that he says will still be around in the future. I felt myself exhale a huge sigh of relief.

First, we need to all expect the internet to stick around. Yes! Without it, I cannot imagine how we would all function. It has definitely made life easier, and saves us time. As educators, our responsibilities continue as students search for answers in response to our questions. Secondly, Palmer (2016) indicates that 'salespeople will still exist' (p. 21) meaning we will always have an opportunity to be persuaded. For students, this means that they will always deserve to be taught classic literary techniques in order to analyze and be informed. Arguments and rhetoric will always be needed. Thirdly, 'listening will still be important' (p. 21). Thank goodness! Receptive vocabulary will still have a place in the world, but how messages are received will only grow with technology advances. Music, video, and technology created imagery will continue to evolve as messages are provided. We will listen, but listening may be a much more complex process involving a combination of our senses. Lastly, 'people will still be speaking' (p. 22). For me, he saved the best for last. Our world will still need strong speakers in order to craft messages. Presence will still make an impact and personal appearance will still contribute to the overall message_even via Skype and FaceTime. Body language will still be important to understand, and well-spoken individuals will still be regarded as experts in their field when having to deliver a public message.

Thank you, Palmer (2016) for challenging education to provide for more 'internet literacy, media literacy, good thinking, and good speaking' (p. 22). I'm comfortable knowing that while our world evolves, the foundation of what we know now, and will still need to know can be traced back to ancient Greece ' as it should be. The 'new age' (p. 22) is still to be grounded in some educational tradition.


Palmer, E. (2016). 4 predictions for students' tomorrows. Educational Leadership, 73, 18-22.