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Many of our organisations have decades of time-served experience.  They learned their skills and honed their craft in a time before mobile technology and digitally social interaction.  They were and often still are tolerant of a particular style of management practice.  They are usually referred to as Generation X.

We also employ those that have grown up with technology, the internet and digital social networking.  Their style of learning differs.  Their approach and commitment to the working world are also difference and the way they lead their life generally is different.  They have grown up on a world of constant and fast change.  These are commonly referred to as Generation Y.

There are in some cases some subtle and in many large changes between how the two generations will think.  I came across this useful table below that shows their differences in views on some key topics.  I hope you find this as useful as I did.

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  • More generation humour.  I'm writing a cheque this morning for school dinners....

    X = I always used to pay with cheques.  It took me a while to get switched into these plastic things with chips and PINS's but I still have a cheque book just in case.

    Y = What's a cheque book?

    Z = I will just be paying with my thumb print probably!

    • First off... Hope you enjoyed the Lego movie Ady! Definitely a modern classic ;)

      It was interesting to read the piece you found Alison on Gen Z learning styles- completely makes sense, and I'd never considered that Gen Z learners might be so easily disengaged with technology; but of course, to them it's like us becoming easily disengaged with a textbook!

      I suppose this draws into the focus the necessity to teach material using technology as a tool- and not just expect that the 'awe' of playing with a computer in a classroom will automatically impart the necessary knowledge.

      The term 'Teach' itself implies a traditional, standing-in-front-of-a-class-talking approach. I much prefer the term 'facilitate' here. When you think about it... we use this term in adult learning, but not so much with children. Why? There's an assumption that, given the tools and a guide, an adult can and will find the answers and learn; I think the key with Gen Z is to realise that this can be true for children too, and giving them the tools to learn but allowing them to discover the answers alone, with guidance, is far more powerful. It has much more longevity and effect than just delivering the answers in an ' I'm-right-listen-to-me' way. Difficult perhaps for some more traditional teachers to adjust to, but as you said Ady, we're all little mirrors after all!

      • Interesting Lucy.

        Our "early years experience" has always been different to the "early years experience" of the generations before us, so this must always have been a challenge for teachers over the decades.

        If my memory serves me right, Steiner schools were set up to use this "learn by discovery" approach, to enable their students to learn more effectively. Their teaching methods and schedules were very interesting compared to the normal national curricula approach.

        ( I left teaching at secondary level many years ago and haven't kept up with the relevant literature so I don't know whether a style has superceded this, nor do I know if the approach has waned in popularity. Dr Rudolph Steiner was the man who introduced the original Steiner School ideas, which were then further developed by others using his principles as a basis.)

  • ...Oh and one last thing....

    I'm going to see the Lego film today.  How Y is that!!  Of course, as an X, we used to actually play with lego.  The Z's will probably in the future be making their own Lego movie!

    ...by the way, I'll be using my Student Discount Card and getting a discount!!

    • Or maybe the gen zs will be building using 3 d virtual techniques in their front room.

      Enjoy the film Ady. I think our company should make a kids film using our products as heros. Great way of developing brand love!

      ( i havent seen the lego film but read the "branding" article that Mike posted)
  • Here are some thoughts published about gen Z

    I just did a quick google on Generation Z learning styles and quite a few sites popped up. This was the one I quickly opened which says what I was hoping it would say - I guess gen Z is still in school rather than in the workplace - but they are on their way and gen Y staff had better be ready for them! haha!

    • Hi Both,

      Great discussion.  I agree with you Lucy in that it's interesting to see this laid out so black and white.  I do like these subjective, put people into boxes type theories as they give us some clues in terms of how different people behave.  But at the same time, I've never been keen on putting our entire world population into just a few boxes as what I believe can happen is that people believe that because someone is in a particular box, they will always behave in a particular way.  Of course as we know that's not always the case.

      I'm Generation X but demonstrate lots of Generation Y traits.  To answer Alison's point do X's turn into Y's when they get older, to some degree, I guess I personally have.  I don't think that's age related.  If it is, perhaps I'm young at heart!  I think it's more to do with who I'm exposed to.  As the little mirrors of human behaviour we are, perhaps as I've worked more and more with Y's, and exposed myself more and more to Y type thinking and developments, some of that has rubbed off.  Nothing to do with age or upbringing I guess, more to do with my exposure to others.

      So I believe whilst it's great to have these boxes to put people into, they serve only as a guide and remind us that our approach should be blended to satisfy all and be accepting of differences to the reactions and needs of our diverse delegates.

      The other point on this was Lucy's question around how generation affects learning styles.  Having read the link from Alison on some thoughts on Generation Z (the next generat... there's a suggestion that Z's are more "visual" in their learning style.  

      What are your views be on that?  Do you think the future generations are more likely to be visual learners? 


  • I wonder if generation Y will turn into generation X as they get older? Are the traits age related rather than upbringing related?

    Having said that, as a generation X person, I was not so much of a generation Y person when I was young. I had friends who were though (and still are.) Funnily enough, they are all self employed now working their own hours and combining lifestyle with work. None are rich financially but they feel rich as they have achieved what they wanted in managing their life work balance and so on. They were a bit more anti-establishment than I was I guess. Thinking about it their chosen line of work is generally in the arts (whereas I have been mainly science based) Adding to Lucy's thoughts, my 'Y-'ish friends all left school at 16, whereas I was 18 when I left.

    Have you heard mention of Generation Z yet? I'm sure I came across this recently. I'll have to go and check where it was for you!

  • Hi Ady,

    Thanks for sharing this, really interesting to see X and Y laid out in a black-and-white format; so much of our interpretation of these traits is usually subjective! What's particularly interesting for me in the Gen X-Gen Y debate is the differences amongst X or Y respectively, and the extent to which individuals 'fit the mould'.

    I know Gen Xers, for example, who exhibit far more Y tendancies than myself, technically a Gen Yer! But... why is this? This table is great in terms of generalisations, but if we delve deeper what role do you think learning styles has on the traits, and might there be any correlation between learning styles and extent to which individuals fit the Gen Y/Gen X stereotype? Does education level play a part, what about the field the individual is working in? Be interesting to hear some thoughts on this!

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