Keeping abreast of the morphing demographics of generational characteristics seems an essential sin for marketers, poli-sci profilers, and educators. I say sin because no one really likes to suffer the stereotypes. (As a Mexican-American, I am always reticent to confess my love of beans and tortillas. But they really are good!)
There is an entire dogma to the millennial demographic that can be ascribed to Dr. Leonard Sax  and Dr. Jean Twenge who is likewise an authority on the characteristics of iGen – the generation born between 1995 – 2012.
At 37-years old, I do not feel too distant from the characteristics of this youngest generation. Born in 1980, I’m barely a millennial, thus the iGen’s overarching generational trends of foregoing a driver’s license, obsession with safety, and not having as many friends are relatable to me as an introverted SoCal refugee who abhors traffic and has paralysis-inducing fear of germs.
My beef with iGen is with their trends in learning. In Dr. Twenge’s Atlantic piece, she documents that these post-millennials do not read. Yes, they do not read. They are literate (I assume), but they eschew the hard-won, time-honored, species-defining, practice of reading books in favor of videos and podcasts. As a lawyer, an author (albeit of law articles that no one reads), a once grade school “slow-reader” turned connoisseur of lit worthy of qualifying antecedents, and oh yes, an educator, this characteristic of not reading textbooks, ebooks, or book-books is scary on many levels.
I went existential after reading Twenge. Am I a dinosaur? Am I causing issues for my students in expecting them to read 60+ pages a week? (We do 8-week sessions in the business department.) I am trying to be positive and objective (to keep from crying): iGen-ers dislike lectures, dislike reading, dislike long formatted papers. In fact, Twenge remarks that newer textbooks are packed with pictures, a full-color palate, and must be updated at least every 2 years to fight the slide; never mind that every economic undgrad in America used Chiang’s Quantitative Methods text for the past 50 years and society progresses still.
There’s redemption. A University of Michigan economics professor, Dr. Susan Dynarski, challenged higher ed to keep laptops out of the classroom. There is an incredible amount of research showing that laptops are not as effective as old school note-taking. There’s something about processing the information and writing it down that straight transcription misses.
Anecdotally, I actually followed the old script of never missing class, sitting at the front of the room, outlining, never pulling all-nighters, and I never used my laptop in any of my classroom lectures ever. I know enough about myself that my focus will be destroyed with electronics in my proximity, and why would you blow your tuition not being fully present? This may win me some virtue points with the nerd gods, but I honestly believe that this was the best way to learn, and I try to shepherd my students in my antiquated ways. I won’t go as far as banning laptops from my classes as I am too libertarian for it, but I can present information and hope that students will aspire to the challenge. Maybe it’ll catch on.
I saw that this company called Moleskine actually sells paper notebooks for $15 and up. This is called a Giffen-good in economics and some of the irony is not lost on me that Dollar General sells a similar product at a striking discount. But if a huge markup makes the basics hip again, I welcome it.
 Twenge, Jean. (2017). iGen: Why Today’s Super-Connected Kids Are Growing Up Less Rebellious, More Tolerant, Less Happy–and Completely Unprepared for Adulthood–and What That Means for the Rest of Us. New York: Atria Books.
Twenge, Jean. (2017). Have Smartphones Destroyed a Generation? Atlantic, Retrieved from https://www.theatlantic.com/magazine/archive/2017/09/has-the-smartphone-destroyed-a-generation/534198/
 Chiang, Alpha. (1967). Fundamental Methods of Mathematical Economics. New York: Mcgraw Hill.
 Dynarski, Susan. (2017). New York Times. Laptops Are Great. But Not During a Lecture or a Meeting. Retrieved from https://www.nytimes.com/2017/11/22/business/laptops-not-during-lecture-or-meeting.html