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Friday, June 27, 2008

Boomers and their Children

Hello again. I just wanted somebody else to put up the first non-Heller post before I resuscitated this chestnut that has been stuck in limbo on TypePad.

"What's most interesting to me is that this is one of the few bona fide culture gaps between most contemporary law students and their reasonably tech-savvy professors: you guys didn't have the internet in class when you were in school."

This was part of a nicely-written anonymous comment to my post a while back on internet access in the classroom.  At the risk of beating a dead horse, Anonymous was correct:  this isn't about Google, it's about generations.  In the "do what I say, not what I did" analog to "daddy, did you ever smoke marijuana?," Alene said to me, "didn't you do the New York Times crossword puzzle in class?"  I said, "yes, but only when it was boring."  God only knows what I would have done if the puzzle had been available online

Are broad characterizations about generations valid?  It seems to me that some of them have to be.  My parents grew up without television; my adult millennial children have never really known a world without broadband internet access.  That has to have had a sweeping influence on how each generation views the world, even if fundamentally there is nothing new under the sun.

Coincidentally, I saw the abstract the other day of a Kentucky Law Journal article by Leslie Larkin Cooney, Giving Millennials a Leg Up: How to Avoid the "If I Knew Then What I Know Now" Syndrome.  And a friend steered me to a 2007 Harvard Business Review article by Neil Howe and William Strauss entitled The Next 20 Years:  How Customer and Workforce Attitudes Will Evolve.  Both make sweeping generalizations about generational differences, the latter claiming a pattern of American "Prophet" "Hero" "Nomad" and "Artist" generations going back to 1588.  Boomers are Prophets; Gen-Xers are Nomads; and the authors think Millennials will be Heroes. 

That's consistent with the inclinations my Millennial children seem to demonstrate.   For his twenty-first birthday present, my son Matthew asked for a Sierra Club membership; I was so proud of him that I bought him a Life Membership - $1,000 to the environment, and not, as I understand from the "felons and mentally ill" restrictions allowed by Justice Scalia's opinion, in support of the right to arm bears.

Posted by Jeff Lipshaw on June 27, 2008 at 02:49 PM in Teaching Law | Permalink

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