...Better yet... am I?
Happy New Year internet. Here it is the end of the first week of the new year and it feels like Spring. Honest. Today it felt like Winter had completely passed over us in favor of an early vacation. The temperature cracked the 50 degree mark and although it did take a while to melt most of our recent snow, the sun did its best to make you think it was warmer. I wish it were true and Winter had indeed forgotten to rest its grey, heavy ass upon our shoulders until March, but I know better.
Although the day was pristine, I did have to spend part of that time inside...grading papers. I am just finishing teaching two online courses of Art History 101 in what is a very brief and intensive "Winter Term". Its an interesting thing teaching a fully online course. Its actual my 4th year doing the Winter Term and I have used components of online learning as part of my regular "face to face" classes. I started involving the online component to my 101 classes out of convenience. I made all the quizzes and exams available online and the students could take the test at anytime on a given day. This also was helpful in freeing up extra time...instead of wasting time sitting in class taking the test that time could be used doing something else...plus the test online automatically grades it's self and adds the grade to my class list...more time saved by not grading papers! Besides those, there are a number of other reasons for the online thing but I'm not interested in really making a case for it right here. I'm interested in talking about the person, the student who readily signs up for these courses...who does not hesitate, even if they have never taken an online course before.
I recently learned the term "Millennial". I think I'm a little slow on the uptake with this. Anyway, the term Millennial refers to a generation of people..."There are about 80 million of them, born between 1980 and 1995,"... "They multitask, talk, walk, listen and type, and text. And their priorities are simple: they come first."...They were raised by doting parents who told them they are special, played in little leagues with no winners or losers, or all winners. They are laden with trophies just for participating and they think your business-as-usual ethic is for the birds. And if you persist in the belief you can, take your job and shove it."..."Characteristics of the generation vary by region, depending on social and economic conditions. However, it is generally marked by an increased use and familiarity with communications, media, and digital technologies."
Now, with this clearly defined, I understand why its often difficult to fully engage the college students. It is downright difficult to shock them as well...it often takes a story about Vito Acconci masturbating in his performance piece "Seedbed" to shake them from their devices...and even then its a brief glance up from a deep, back and forth text conversation. But, honestly I cannot sit here and point fingers. Better yet, I'm asking myself...have I become a Millennial? Am I one through cultural assimilation? Can I be one even though I'm a Generation Xer with a healthy DIY mentality? ...Dear God what have I become!!!
Ehhh, maybe not. I mean, I have Facebook, but who doesn't. I do involve a good deal of technology in my daily life. I do not use a "smart phone" nor do I desire to use one...I do not want to be attached to my online world every waking second. However, I do write on this blog...have done it for a while now. The blog is pretty much a one sided conversation...its me shouting about me out in the cold, virtual, blackness of the internet. In many ways, I think writing a blog post is like putting out a new status on your Facebook page...just with pictures and a good deal more content.
And as Facebook changes its format once again in an attempt to stay fresh, my boredom grows and I smell the rotting corpse of MySpace still out there...somewhere in the online elephant graveyard...and I feel the need to get my hands dirty with clay. So maybe I'm not a "Millennial"...maybe I am just adapting to survive and exhibiting passive "Millennial" traits. I also wonder how those traits effect the work I make...more about this later.
Please take a few minutes away from your smart phones to watch the Pharaoh, a.k.a. Hen - Rock,a.k.a, Mr. Hennesy Youngman give a very funny and informative talk at the Museum of Contemporary Art in Chicago on the subject "To Catch a Millennial".
Please silence all devices...and BTW(Millennial speak), if your wondering what that home cooked goodness is at the top of this screen might be...its my New Year's Day meal...A mixture of some down home southern good luck traditions...Hoppin' John Stew over Smoked Gouda Cheese Grits, drop biscuits and collard greens.
OK...now you can go tweet about it...