Educators, you have a new learning outcome:
Generation Z’s reality has been shaped by 9/11, climate change, the Great Recession, multiple cataclysmic natural disasters, soaring rates of racism and ethnocentrism … and now, coronavirus. Many will lose their loved ones before their time. Many won’t experience the milestones that marked our lives: the championship game, senior prom, graduation. Many will lose their jobs. Their parents will lose their jobs. And perhaps worst of all, their sense of imperviousness will take a dark twist. They aren’t getting sick, but they are making others sick, people they love, people they depend on.
It’s time to acknowledge that Generation Z’s reality is completely different from ours. They are already dubbed “the worry generation.” You know why, you see their skyrocketing rates of anxiety, depression, and suicide … Yes, we must keep teaching. Students must keep learning the knowledge and skills of our disciplines. But this is a useless enterprise if we don’t first give our children reason to hope.
So educators, when you get online with your students, before you start teaching what you know, ask students what they know. Listen. Empathize. We may have to maintain physical distance, but we can use technology to create social closeness.
Teach them how to really connect.
Teach them to hope.