Who are the youth of today?

My post this week explores who the young people of today are and I attempt to “pin them down” through the creation of a Pinterest board which explores some of the things young people of today are interested in. I found this an interesting and enlightening exercise as I have not been teaching for a couple of years. I drew upon research on the internet – such as the Teen Choice Awards – Winners of “Teen Choice 2014” Announced (Teenchoiceawards.com, 2014), Everything You Need To Know About How Teens Are Spending Money, What They Like, And Where They Shop (Peterson, 2014) and other articles addressing what teens of today are interested in, my interview with a young person (which can be seen in my last post), friends on the internet, a friend who teaches in a secondary college in the NT and a couple of other young people who were kind enough to help me out (this would have been further informed by my students if I was working in a school)

 

My Pinterest Board Insights into the Youth of Today can be found here.

 

I found I ended up with a range of pins which I was told fell into four different approximate age groups with some pins crossing all age groups. These groups fell in the following approximate age groups, 8-12, 12-15, 14-17 and 16-18. Pins which represent the interests of the younger age group of 8-12 included Minecraft, I Tube, Pokemon, Ariana, 5SOS, Girlfriend magazine, Star Wars and Justice Crew. Pins which cross all age groups include, Facebook, Snapchat, Dr Who, Call of Duty, McDonalds, Coca Cola and Hungry Jacks. This exercise also made me think about how the things that are popular with youth and indeed all of us are apt to change regularly as new song, singers, tv shows, movies and fashions emerge. An example of this for me can be seen in the pin for Twilight, I was informed that the popularity of this series has faded in favour of others such as Hunger Games and Divergent.

Identifying the things that are important in the lives of students helps teachers and school libraries to better understand, relate to and engage students, creating a deeper learning as can be seen through the research of Carol Kuhlthau in the area of Inquiry Learning. I found a fantastic article – Student Identity and Engagement in Elementary Schools which looks at the importance of seeing students as a whole person. While the article is aimed at teachers and the classroom setting, I believe it can also be useful and is highly relevant to both a secondary school setting and the school library setting.

Some of the things in this article that stood out to me as I read it and thought about how it might relate to a school library and the teacher-librarian include:

  • The exclusion of identity and voice from classroom learning and school experiences can lead to student disengagement and behavioural issues (Student Identity and Engagement in Elementary Schools, 2011, p.2).
  • Dimensions of identity are complex and far-ranging (Student Identity and Engagement in Elementary Schools, 2011, p.2).
  • Knowing student’s strengths, needs and interests enables connections to learning to be made which are relevant and authentic (Student Identity and Engagement in Elementary Schools, 2011, p.2).
  • Learning can be personalized, engaging students through understanding students contexts and interests (Student Identity and Engagement in Elementary Schools, 2011, p.3).

Dunleavy and Milton (2009) in (Student Identity and Engagement in Elementary Schools, 2011, p.3) state that amongst other things students want to engage with knowledge that matters, see how subjects are interconnected, be respected and to learn from and with each other and people in their community. The article goes on to look at how we can “set the stage for engagement” suggesting strategies such as valuing diversity, connecting displays to the curriculum, imagination and the real world, giving students creative ownership of their learning environment when it is a shared space, and finally, learning incorporates prior understanding and background knowledge (Student Identity and Engagement in Elementary Schools, 2011). The following statement is the concluding/overarching idea from this article and is one which really encapsulated the argument that had been presented:

Identity + voice = engagement + learning, created by sacha using Microsoft Publisher

Identity + voice = engagement + learning, created by sacha using Microsoft Publisher

How this might influence the way in which I would run a school library you might ask (me or yourself) In my case it has made me think about how I might include the students in the design and layout of the library to make it a place they feel comfortable and want to be in, able to learn in and more importantly a place in which they have ownership. It also made me think about how I might display artwork and books and how I can then connect these displays (which may focus on one subject) to other subjects in a way that is relevant to the students. Finally, in knowing students interests and contexts I can focus the way in which I resource, market and engage with students and parents (for example, using twitter or facebook to connect with students and parents outside of the school environment).

 

Bibliography:

Peterson, H. (2014). Everything You Need To Know About How Teens Are Spending Money, What They Like, And Where They Shop. Business Insider Australia. Retrieved 2 October 2014, from http://www.businessinsider.com.au/how-teens-are-spending-money-2014-4

Student Identity and Engagement in Elementary Schools. (2011) (20th ed.). Retrieved from http://www.edu.gov.on.ca/eng/literacynumeracy/inspire/research/capacityBuilding.html

Teenchoiceawards.com,. (2014). 2014 Teen Choice Awards News. Retrieved 2 October 2014, from http://www.teenchoiceawards.com/tcnews.aspx

 

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One comment

  1. You definitely have a diverse range of pins here Sacha. You attribute to this diversity to different interests among the different age groups, which I agree with. But looking at the subjects pinned, I think access to technology is possibly a more influential factor. 10 of the pins are applications used on tech devices (most likely mobile) while it is highly probable that several of the others are most likely viewed on mobile tech devices. If we were to ask youths for 20 or 30 pop culture artifacts they are into it would be interesting to see the differences between the high and the occasional tech users. It’s also interesting to note that many of the non tech subjects, such as coke and Nike have been with us for a long time. I realize the whole mobile technology industry is very young but it will be interesting to see if any of these applications are with us 10 years on or if they are just remembered as fads of the early 21st century.

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