Millennials and Pedagogy

Millennials and Pedagogy:
Why Approaches to Education
Need to Change
Teri McCarthy, PhD
 Associate professor at Lithuania Education University
(formerly Vilnius Pedagogical University)
 Teaching in Vilnius since 2011
 PhD from the University of Kansas (USA) in Second
Language Acquisition (applied linguistics) from the
School of Education
 Has taught since 1983 at the tertiary level in China,
Russia, Nigeria, Holland, and Afghanistan.
Millennials Rising: The Next Great
The term Millennials was first used by Neil Howe and
William Strauss (2000/2009). The authors define
Millennials as those born from 1980 to 2000.
These authors focused only on this generation in the
USA (later global-wide research verifies startling
The Millennial Generation
 Born in the early 1980s – onward.
 Increased use/familiarity with communications, media,
digital technologies.
 In most parts of the world their upbringing is marked by
an increase in a neoliberal** approach to
 Their overall beliefs about the world are impacted by their
sense of a skewed egalitarianism and entitlement.
**A political movement beginning in the 1960s that blends
traditional liberal concerns for social justice with an emphasis on
economic growth.
Millennials Cont’d
 Classlessness and social equality are vitally important.
 Raised with a new democracy.
 Gender equality, racial equality, sexual-orientation
equality, religious equality—all have to be honored.
 They believe that all boundaries and hierarchical
distinctions are to be done away with.
 Millennials have no doubt that they are on equal
footing with the entire human race.
The Seven Core Traits of the USA Millennial Generation
 Trait #1
Special. From home-precious-baby movies of
the mid-1980s to the media glare surrounding
today’s young people, older generations have
indoctrinated in Millennials the sense that
Millennials are, collectively, vital to the nation,
to the world, and to their parents’ sense of
Trait #2
 Sheltered. From the surge in child-safety laws
ranging from mandatory car seats to bicycle
helmets, as well as hotel-style security in
today’s American university dorm rooms,
Millennials have been the focus of the most
sweeping youth-protection movement in
American history.
Trait #3
 Confident. With high levels of collective
optimism and a focus on positive solutions for
big problems, this generation is striking an
upbeat new tone about their own—and the
Trait #4
 Team oriented. From youth soccer and social
networking to collaborative learning and
community service, Millennials are developing
strong team instincts, tight peer bonds, and a
rising sense of civic engagement.
Trait #5
 Conventional. Taking pride in their improving
behavior and comfortable with their parents’
values, Millennials provide a modern twist to
the traditional belief that social rules and
standards can make life easier—it’s okay to
follow the rules.
Trait #6
 Pressured. Pushed to be #1 and to take full
advantage of the opportunities offered them,
Millennials feel a “trophy kid” pressure to
excel, both in the classroom and in the
Trait #7
 Achieving. As accountability and higher school
standards have risen to the top of America’s political
agenda, Millennials have become a
generation focused on achievement; they are the
highest-educated young adults in U.S. history if
measured by the number who attend university or
institutions of higher education.
The Pew Foundation’s 2010 Research:
Open to change
Pew Research found…
They are less religious
They are very upbeat and optimistic
Connected to social media
1 in 5 has posted a self video on YouTube
4 in 10 have tattoos (but not where anyone can see them)
1 in 4 has a piercing other than their earlobes
6 in 10 were raised by both parents
50% of those polled say that at least one of their parents is
their best friend
Viacom’s Unprecedented Look At
Millennials Worldwide
30,000 surveyed
15,000 interviewed
Across 24 countries
Published November 15, 2012
Viacom’s Findings:
 Over 3/4s of those polled describe themselves as very
 Millennials’ levels of happiness outweigh stress levels
by 2 to 1.
 Unemployment outweighs world hunger as the top
global issue that young people want to see solved.
 Half believe that job security will only continue to get
worse (49%).
“Technology does not define me! It
enables me!”
 73% say that access to the Internet changes the way
they view the world.
“…change the world for the better!”
 Millennials are displaying a growing sense of national
pride and interest in maintaining local traditions and
at the same time they have an increasingly open and
tolerant view of others and the world around them.
 86% describe themselves as tolerant.
 84% believe that “my age group has the potential to
change the world for the better.”
 93% globally believe it is their responsibility to treat all
people with respect regardless of race, gender,
religion, political viewpoint or sexual orientation.
 “The attention of their parents, the political
system…the educational system, and the
marketplace has given Millennials a sense of
importance and empowerment” (Howe & Strauss,
2009, p. 8).
Viacom’s Research Demonstrates a
World-Wide Trend
 Don’t think this isn’t happening in your “neck of the woods!”
 Talk to teachers in primary and secondary schools in your
areas: kids are ruling the home, the classroom, and the
 Parent/Teacher relationships are changing as parents see
their child as exceptional.
 Principals, university rectors and university presidents are
now seeing students as consumers.
I wanted to see if my students in
Lithuania were similar to
Millennials around the globe…so
I did my own survey.
I conducted a web-based survey with
137 respondents:
44 – 18 to 22 year olds
56 – 23 to 25 year olds
18 – 26 to 30 year olds
17 – over 30 years of age
Lithuanian Millennials
18-22 Year Olds
Top Three:
 A good sense of humor – 82%
 Knew subject matter very well – 84%
 Warm and friendly – 75%
Bottom Three:
 Very high expectations – 7%
 Very strict – 9%
 Lots of teaching experience – 32%
In the words of Bob Dylan: The Times
They Are A-Changin’
Come gather 'round people
Wherever you roam
And admit that the waters
Around you have grown
And accept it that soon
You'll be drenched to the bone
If your time to you
Is worth savin'
Then you better start swimmin'
Or you'll sink like a stone
For the times they are a-changin'.
I know from my own experience,
that a teacher trained in the 20
century will need to adapt to her
students who are learners in the
21st century.
Irrigating Deserts
Rethinking Didactics for
University Instruction
C.S. Lewis
“The task of the modern
educator is not to cut down
jungles but to irrigate deserts”
(The Abolition of Man, 1940/1996,
p. 27).
How do professors, trained in the
20th century, impact students?
How do we “irrigate deserts” following C. S. Lewis’s
admonition in The Abolition of Man?
This paper details why it is imperative for professors to
understand Millennial students’ unique ways of knowing
and the heightened need for both instructional and
personal changes.
 The role of the educator is to see the areas in the students’
learning experiences where nothing is growing, where
there is no life, no knowledge and to teach in such a way as
to affect change—just as water brings change to a desert.
 With proper nurturing and cultivating of ideas,
relationships, and of learning, students can become
“irrigated deserts” blooming with concepts, critical
thinking skills, and knowledge.
#1 Pedagogical Shift
 The professor/student relationship
Research on today’s university students finds
that the postmodern student who has been
shaped by deconstructionism learns primarily,
almost exclusively, through the
professor/student relationship. The converse is
also true. If the learner strongly dislikes a
professor, feels invisible, or doesn’t feel valued
by the professor, research shows that the
student will not actively engage in the learning
Research and Literature Review
Carol Lundberg and Laurie Schreiner (2004)
surveyed 4,500 students and found
“Relationships with faculty were stronger
predictors of learning than any other predictor
including student background and
characteristics—race, ethnicity, origin or
color…” (p. 549).
Jack Whitehead, lecturer in education at the University
of Bath, sits on both the U.S and the British boards of
the Educational Research Association. Whitehead
writes, “…often overlooked, yet is emerging as a key
element in the development of learning power, is the
theme of relationships” (2002, p. 1).
Whitehead continues, “It seems that the quality of
relationships between learners and their teachers is
central to the development of a climate where learners
can change and grow and develop in their capacity to
learn…Positive interpersonal relationships are those
where both parties are able to offer the other respect, to
listen carefully and to respond appropriately…” (p. 2).
Shift Happens
It appears that the shift from the student/faculty
relationship impacting learning to the student/faculty
relationship dictating learning is directly related to three
major trends in modern culture and society:
1) A shift in the parent/child relationship,
2) Mass culture’s (and this isn’t only happening in the
West) focus on students’ positive self-esteem, and
3) Society’s belief that equality means a level playing
field for students and professors.
The Why of It All
“The attention of their parents, the political
system…the educational system, and the marketplace
has given Millennials a sense of importance and
empowerment” (Howe & Strauss, 2009, p. 8).
The Research Shows:
Students want to connect with their professors.
Students want equality.
Students want mutuality.
Students want respect in their relationships with
 Research has indubitably shown that students
today need strong and personal relationships
with their professors in order to learn.
Developing those relationships is hard and
time-consuming. But it is possible.
 Learn students’ names.
 Give them a number where they can text you
whatever they need to text you.
 Watch them do their thing.
 Value them as human beings.
 Speak to them outside the classroom.
 Hierarchy doesn’t work with this generation.
#2 Pedagogical Shift
Students are tied to it; students live in it; students want
it and we need to provide meaningful and useful ways
to utilize technology for our students’ learning.
 Start a website for each of your classes.
 Give assignments for students to watch first-class
lecturers on YouTube.
 Be on Facebook – as a person and as a professional;
develop a FB page for your classes – make it a “virtual
 Let ‘em keep their phones.
 Texting vs. tooling
Let them create…
 Let your students go crazy with technology and
create assignments.
 And teach them how to use technology for research,
for planning, for writing and to enhance their studies.
 Stay current on the latest technology.
 PS - I should have used for this slideshow!
#3 Pedagogical Shift
 Embrace multiple intelligences!
 Incorporate learning strategies that embrace
the diversity of your students’ gifts and
 Utilize cooperative learning – let them do
group projects.
Howard Gardner’s Multiple
#4 Pedagogical Shift
 Give them autonomy over their learning.
#5 Pedagogical Shift…Parental
 Parents…
 In the USA we call these “helicopter” parents.
 Olavi Otepalu, a principal here in Tallinn at the Tallinn
European School (TES) says, “The essence of the school is
inclusive. Teachers, students and parents are deeply
involved in school life” (Roonemaa, 2014, p. 78).
 TES has set up e-school, a unique online school system that
can be easily monitored with a smartphone for parents to
stay connected.
#6 Pedagogical Shift…Student
Approval Ratings
 As the student pool gets smaller and smaller
universities must become more competitive for
student enrollment.
 Student evaluations were given for the first time at
my university in 2013!
 Departmental meetings consist of warnings: change
or lose your job to another.
 Universities are now seeing students as consumers.
Ken Bain, director of New York University’s
Center for Teaching Excellence
“Great teachers are not just great speakers or discussion
leaders; they are, more fundamentally, special kinds of
scholars and thinkers, leading intellectual lives that focus
on learning—both theirs and their students'” (B7).
Perhaps we as professors dealing with Millennials (21st
Century Students) can help them understand what is
truly good, what is truly true, and what is truly beautiful
by building relationships that enable us to mentor them,
model for them and conceivably mold some of them to
see the world around them in a new light and perhaps
in a new way.
After all, isn’t that the real definition of learning?
Lendol Calder writes,
“…good teachers do not cling to their
prerogatives as professors, but humble
themselves to see as students see, to learn what
students are learning... Under the current climate
of assumptions, professors are loath to do this.
Such reluctance is why, for learning to happen,
scholarly teachers will have to be born. For good
teachers to be born, it may be that professors
will have to die to their rights and traditions”
(2004, p. 12).
Is there more time?
Then let’s look @ those
respondents who are over 30
years old…
Characteristics of a Good Teacher
 64% said a good sense of humor was important.
 35% felt knowing the students’ names was important.
 82% said “interesting” was a significant trait for a
good teacher.
 70% warm and friendly was important.
 0% said high expectations mattered.
 65% teachers need to be good communicators.
17 and Under
100% on Facebook
100% interact with technology twice an hour
100% teachers must have a good sense of humor
100% teachers that are good know students’ names
100% good teachers are prepare interesting lessons
100% believed the most important values for them
personally were tolerance and honesty.