Journey to Excellence

Age and Generation

    age - (adj) 1) length of time a person or thing exist; 2) stage of life

    generation - (n) 1) a group of people of similar age, born and living contemporaneously; 2) a group of individuals having contemporaneous status; 3) a body of living beings constituting a single step in a line of descent from ancestors

There are several instances when an educator will traditionally experience age and generational differences. The initial encounter occurs when the differences in age between the teacher and students results in differences in knowledge and experiences. If ignored, this generation gap will impact instruction and students’ full potential for learning. For example, the current generation is growing up (and learning) in a constantly stimulated visual environment. This youth culture is sometimes called the MTV generation, after a fast-paced music channel on television. Educators must seek ways to capture students’ attention and interest in their instruction.

Another surprising difference that an educator will encounter maybe with other adults, colleagues, of a different generation and widely different perspectives. Fellow staff, constituent church members, and students’ parents or guardians who vary significantly in age may have opinions that clash with the needs of today’s youth. Educators must chart a careful course among the differing views, educational philosophies, and learning expectations. It is imperative that one develop an awareness of possible differences, and create opportunities to maintain a working relationship for the success of the student and school.

A large number of Seventh-day Adventist schools are small schools with multi-age, multi-grade classrooms. In this setting it is vital that teachers develop instructional strategies that will not only adapt to the age differences of students in the classroom, but capitalize on those differences in a way that will make the classroom an empowered learning center.


Bucher, R. D. (2000). Diversity consciousness: Opening our minds to people, cultures, and opportunities. Upper Saddle River, NJ: Prentice Hall.

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