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The Mil­lennial Gen­er­ation covers a wide span of ages — anyone born from 1982 – 2004 — and it’s easy to forget that college stu­dents aren’t the only mil­len­nials. Some pro­fessors fall into the Mil­lennial Gen­er­ation, too.

This creates an inter­esting dynamic on cam­puses all over the country where one part of a gen­er­ation is teaching the youngest members of the same gen­er­ation, showing how diverse life expe­rience can be among Mil­len­nials.

Mil­lennial pro­fessors at Hillsdale College weigh in with their thoughts about teaching members of their own gen­er­ation.

Dr. Adam Carrington, assistant professor of Politics

 

What do you think is the greatest strength mil­len­nials have in the classroom?
Mil­len­nials are very inquis­itive. Mil­lennial stu­dents want to be shown why some­thing is the case. They have had a lot more diversity in media and have had to sort things through for them­selves. As a result, this causes them to chal­lenge things respect­fully in the classroom.

What do you think is the greatest weakness mil­len­nials have in the classroom?
Writing. There is a lot of natural talent but much less refinement of the talent, and it comes to us more raw. There seems to be less grammar. I wish I’d been made to write more myself before college.

What would you like to see more of from your mil­lennial stu­dents?
Mil­len­nials could do better with attachment to insti­tu­tions. Mil­len­nials are dis­trustful of insti­tu­tions, but insti­tu­tions are still important. Mil­len­nials still tend to be reli­gious but not con­nected to reli­gious insti­tu­tions. They want com­munity but tend to not be attached to con­crete com­mu­nities where they live. For example, they tend to be involved in a social media chat room and not a local bowling league.

I would tell my stu­dents here not to overextend them­selves. They think they need to be involved in every­thing right now. They struggle to do all their things well and to stay healthy. Mil­len­nials want to have meaning to their lives.

In what ways do you think mil­lennial stu­dents at Hillsdale conform to the stereo­types of mil­len­nials? In what ways do stu­dents at Hillsdale defy them?
Hillsdale stu­dents conform to mil­lennial stereo­types in how polit­i­cally polarized they tend to be. This obvi­ously differs from the general mil­lennial pop­ulace a bit in how they lean a certain way. Hillsdale stu­dents are more eco­nom­i­cally lib­er­tarian while being socially less lib­er­tarian than the average mil­lennial. Stu­dents here are much more reli­giously devoted and con­nected with reli­gious insti­tu­tions. Hillsdale mil­lennial stu­dents are similar in the need for fig­uring out who they are.

What advice do you have for mil­lennial stu­dents?
Don’t take for granted the com­munity and edu­cation you have here at Hillsdale.

 

Dr. Benedict Whalen, assistant professor of English

 

What do you think is the greatest strength mil­len­nials have in the classroom?
Well, first two caveats: to speak of a gen­er­ation is to speak in mostly unfair gen­er­al­iza­tions, and I am sus­pi­cious of the mean­ing­fulness of our gen­er­a­tional divi­sions. That said, our greatest strength in the classroom probably has to do with our unre­al­istic ide­alism that allows mil­len­nials to have big dreams and hopes even as our culture declines and the baby boomers spend our grandchildren’s wealth.

What would you like to see more of from your mil­lennial stu­dents?
More ser­e­nading outside of windows, poetry shouted from the rooftops, impromptu ren­di­tions of Shake­spearean death scenes, and, of course, correct semi-colon usage.

In what ways do you think mil­lennial stu­dents at Hillsdale conform to the stereo­types of mil­len­nials? In what ways do stu­dents at Hillsdale defy them?
Hillsdale stu­dents are def­i­nitely much more earnest than many of our peer-mil­len­nials. I love that about them. But Hillsdale mil­len­nials have some of the attendant weak­nesses of our gen­er­ation as well: vanity, self-absorption, cell-phone addiction, and con­stant busyness.

What advice do you have for mil­lennial stu­dents?
Gather ye rosebuds while ye may. And blame not my lute.

Is there any­thing else related to mil­len­nials about which you’d like to comment?
In a political culture that obsesses with identity and identity groups, it is probably best for mil­len­nials to not think of them­selves as such, or even to worry about identity at all. Instead of identity, focus on actions.

 

Dr. Blake McAllister, assistant professor of Philosophy

 

What do you think is the greatest strength mil­len­nials have in the classroom?
I’ve noticed a fervent desire among us mil­len­nials to make a con­crete dif­ference in the world around us. Such an impulse can be prob­lematic if it pre­vents us from patiently seeking the ‘less prac­tical’ truths which are the aim of a liberal edu­cation, but it can also inspire us to implement those higher truths into our lives and soci­eties. Living outside of the cave is great, but we need people who are willing to go back in and play with shadows.

What do you think is the greatest weakness mil­len­nials have in the classroom?
America’s edu­ca­tional and cul­tural insti­tu­tions have incul­cated many mil­len­nials with ideas that breed sloth and dis­courage the intel­lectual pursuit of the good. I’m thinking here of things like the bogus fact/opinion dis­tinction which I learned in ele­mentary school. See Justin McBrayer’s piece in the New York Times, ‘Why Our Children Don’t Think There Are Moral Facts.’ My teachers described facts as true and sup­ported by evi­dence, whereas opinions are merely believed and cannot be estab­lished by sci­en­tific inquiry. The not-so-subtle sug­gestion is that some­thing is objec­tively true and ratio­nally dis­cov­erable if and only if it falls within the domain of the hard and soft sci­ences. Judg­ments of value were labeled ‘opinions,’ the obvious impli­cation being that there are no objective truths about what is good, or else that such truths, if there be any, cannot be dis­covered. The fact/opinion dis­tinction may be the symptom of a larger cul­tural problem rather than its cause. Regardless, the message sunk in. The result is a gen­er­ation that largely despairs of our ability to pro­duc­tively inquire into the good.

In what ways do you think mil­lennial stu­dents at Hillsdale conform to the stereo­types of mil­len­nials? In what ways do stu­dents at Hillsdale defy them?
Hillsdale mil­len­nials differ from mil­len­nials at large as much as Hillsdale College differs from the average public uni­versity. So, a lot. For instance, I’ve been delighted to find Hillsdale stu­dents are, in general, decidedly more resistant to the cul­tural forces spreading moral rel­a­tivism and idleness, even when com­pared to other Christian insti­tu­tions of higher edu­cation.

What advice do you have for mil­lennial stu­dents?
Truth must be your first love.

Is there any­thing else related to mil­len­nials about which you’d like to comment?
I’m always a little hes­itant about the relentless mil­lennial bashing that occurs in our culture, not because mil­len­nials are a lot better than everyone thinks but because I’m not sure that, com­par­a­tively, we’re a lot worse than everyone else — espe­cially not when con­sid­ering the scope of history. Were the hearts of pre­vious gen­er­a­tions really more righteous than ours, or did their depravity simply man­ifest itself in dif­ferent, some­times less explicit ways? That being said, there are some trends in mil­lennial culture that are espe­cially harmful, such as the erosion of objective moral truths, and that must be com­bated with special vigor. My only stance here is that these matters are nuanced, and that taking pot shots at mil­len­nials probably doesn’t help. Mil­lennial pro­fessors, on the other hand, are fair game.