How best to deal with millennials is an interesting challenge around the world. Millennials (people born post 1984) can be accused of being entitled and impatient. Have you asked your daughter to help tidy up after supper, or help with chores? If so, you may have been disappointed with her response. However, a request for electronic information is instantly complied with, using her smart phone. So how do we, parents or educators, motivate our children to achieve at school, whilst bringing them up as grounded young adults? This must surely be in their own interests.
I recently asked a 15-year old girl I interviewed, how she had managed to contact a St John’s girl whose name she knew, to ask her about the school. Her response was polite yet direct in its simplicity: “I just checked out her Instagram account!” Well, how obvious could it be? I felt a bit stupid to be honest, but it emphasised the generation gap! So how can we take this generation of tech-savvy, capable teenagers who thrive in a world alien to many of us (who still listen to CDs and watch DVDs), and help them to direct these skills towards mundane chores and school work? According to author and motivational speaker author Simon Sinek, we need firstly to understand them, and then to put in structures to contain the damage. Millennials, he says, are viewed as tough to manage, entitled and often lazy. They want purpose in what they do, and want instant gratification. Two reasons for these qualities, Sinek says, are poor parenting methods and technology. Too often, they ‘were told that they were special all the time, and that they can have anything they want in life, just because they want it.’ Parents demand success and top marks, and teachers often give in to this pressure. This means that children learn to expect to be entitled through no fault of their own. Throw in a smart phone, and the problem is exacerbated.
As millennials have grown up in a social media obsessed world, they are good at filtering things. Others appear to have perfect lives, with amazing online profiles, yet deep inside they often feel depressed themselves. They can’t disclose this, for fear of being ostracised, resulting in an entire generation growing up with low self-esteem. They therefore seek dopamine fixes by going online, craving ‘likes’, ‘followers’ or online friends. According to Sinek, ‘in a 2012 study, Harvard research scientists reported that talking about oneself through social media activates a pleasure sensation in the brain usually associated with food, money and sex. It’s why we count the likes.’ This is highly addictive activity results in the formation of superficial relationships, instead of building deep, meaningful relationships.
So, how do we show our children how to build genuine, sincere relationships, and teach them the value of working hard in order to achieve success? Author of 13 Things Mentally Strong People Don’t Do, Amy Morin, encourages us to enjoy authentic lives by aligning our words and behaviour with our beliefs. ‘When you stop worrying about pleasing everyone’ she says, ‘and, instead, are willing to be bold enough to live according to your own values, you’ll experience many benefits.’ These benefits include improved self-confidence, meaningful relationships, and reduced stress. This also helps in developing emotional intelligence. Emotional intelligence, according to author Daniel Goleman in his book on this topic, is a much stronger predictor of who will be most successful than IQ. This is because it is how we handle ourselves in our relationships that determines how well we do once in a given job. He encourages teachers (and parents) to talk more openly about feelings, in order to teach emotional literacy.
Author Daniel H Pink, a motivation expert, also suggests that millennials have ‘an innate inner drive to be autonomous, self-determined, and connected to one another.’ We should therefore reduce compliance by reducing control, and to encourage engagement in activities by allowing autonomy. ‘The former’, he says, ‘might get you through the day, but the latter will get you through the night.’ With this in mind, I encourage you to limit your child’s social media time, build healthy face-to-face relationships, and stress the benefits of hard work through discipline by encouraging engagement in healthy activities.
“OPEN DOOR ” POLICY
At St John’s D.S.G., we do have an “open-door” policy and encourage parents with concerns (or compliments) to speak to staff. We would rather you speak to us directly than become involved in “car park chatter”. Please meet with the Grade Heads (Grades 8 – 11) or Mr Tyson (Grade 12) for concerns or academic matters. You are also most welcome to contact the new Counsellor, Miss Gina Laurie, when she starts here on 1 June. Rev. Pickford is also available to assist where needed.
Our new Astro turf is complete in use for hockey matches and practices, causing much excitement in the school. We elected to put in a Hybrid turf, which is as good as a water-based carpet, but can also be used like a sand-based turf when dry. We have also included an environmentally friendly water supply system which will be used for 1st team matches and tournaments. We were fortunate that this top-of-the-range turf was largely funded by an insurance pay-out following significant flood damage late last year. We are also building a new technical area on the N3 side. This new Astro turf has enhanced the area next to the new Pavilion, ensuring that this area is now an exciting, world-class facility.
We have now purchased four residential houses in Harwin Road adjacent to the school, and hope to purchase the remaining two in the same block over the next few years. These houses currently house our Finance Department and perform other functions, and will ultimately increase the school grounds.
Mrs René Schoeman (English Department) who is one of our longest-serving members of staff, has made the decision to retire at the end of August. We will certainly miss her.
Congratulations to all staff and girls involved in the recent FUNK performances, and best wishes to those preparing for the World Choir Games in Pretoria in July.
If your daughters participate in any extramural/external activities which are outside of the school organised fixtures or functions, please could results and information be sent to the relevant departments so that we can make announcements and awards accordingly. These can include, for example, Swimming results, music or cultural performances and gymnastics. The relevant departments can then also pass the necessary information on to the Marketing Department for reporting purposes.
A reminder to all girls to return to school after half-term in their winter uniforms. May you and your families have a relaxing time together this weekend and I wish all the Senior School girls well as they prepare for their mid-year examinations.