A National Teacher of the Year nominee claims that Gen Z is less educated, more depressed and lacks values.
High school teacher Jeremy Adams, from Bakersfield, California, religiously starts his new teaching term with the same activity. He presents students with images of well-known celebrities such as Kendall Jenner and Miley Cyrus, who students identify successfully.
When the students are faced with the likes of former Vice President Mike Pence and Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi, their faces are blank. He claims that today’s youth are “barren of the behavior, values and hopes from which human beings have traditionally found higher meaning … or even simple contentment.”
In his new book, Hollowed Out: A Warning About America’s Next Generation, he predicts that young people are unprepared for the future. “We need to brace ourselves for what lies ahead. I write this book as an alarm bell … a project born out of worry, concern and frustration”, he writes.
“I never hear young people professing love for their country,” Adams writes. “I used to. But not lately. That is when I really think teachers have a front-row seat for America’s decline.” He then quotes a 2014 study that reveals 71 per cent of potential military candidates between the ages of 17 and 24 would be ineligible due to obesity, criminal records, or mental health or drug issues.
“The quality of people willing to serve has been declining rapidly”, Adams explains, while highlighting that 70 per cent of seniors would pass a US citizenship test. Less than 20 per cent of people under the age of 45 could.
Adams believes that Gen Z’s apparent differences to other generations stem from family detachment, religion and non-existent communities. Instead, the youth are geared towards tech, after studies reveal that the average Gen Z student uses five devices and has an attention span of just 8-seconds. According to Adams, this essentially results in “lower grades, diminished ability to concentrate, and stunted academic achievement.”
He continues that “the neglect of family life is one of the greatest causes of the hollowing out not only of students but of American life”, revealing that most of his students eat dinner alone despite family dinners apparently leading to less “smoking, binge drinking, marijuana use, violence, school problems, eating disorders and sexual activity.”
Contrary to Adams’ beliefs, Gen Zers should not be underestimated. They offer a fresh perspective and their passion to change the world for the better is unmatched.
While their “academic achievement” may be affected, digital native Gen Zers are far more equipped to navigate the online world than any other generation beforehand. They know how to go viral, gain traction, and form online movements – and with the rapid continuous growth of tech, they will make much better suitors for future employees.
Generation Z is on track to be the most educated, diverse and influential generation to date. They have access to boundless amounts of information and know how to use it to support their quests. With an outdated schooling system that no longer serves the youth of today, maybe the issue isn’t Gen Z after all.