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I work with computers, it is my job. All day I type on them, look at them, think about them. Its how I make my living. When I’m at home, computers and other electronics are everywhere. I can’t escape them. When someone in my family has trouble with their device they often come to me and say, “my iThingy” isn’t working, can you fix it?” The truth of the matter is that my job revolves around enterprise databases and UNIX operating systems. So, I”m really not too good with iThis and iThat electronics.
I believe Tim Elmore correctly asserts that the so-called Millennials or Generation Y is best understood by those born pre-1990 and those post 1990. The line of demarcation is based on the explosion of the Internet into the daily lives of humans throughout the globe. This generation of young people are not merely influenced by technology they are “defined” (p. 13) by it. Elmore does a wonderful job introducing his readers to the life of an iYer as he calls them.
As anticipated, Elmore explores the positive and negative impacts of social media and the like. I felt he gave a pretty balanced analysis of the pros and cons of the connected iYer.
Elmore provides many two column charts showing contrasting ideas. For instance, on page 35 he has such a chart highlighting the pros and cons of the typical iYer. Here is a sample:
|They’re adept at multitasking.||They have difficulty focusing.|
|They hunger to change the world.||They anticipate doing it quickly and easily.|
|They own the word of technology.||The expect easy and instant results.|
Elmore uses many stories and analogies to drive home his points. Most were helpful and effective. One in particular stood out. He tells the story of some young African elephants that had strayed from their heard. Upon being found some time later they were found to be extremely aggressive, even killing other animals for “fun” which is unlike a typical elephant. Elmore then relates his point, “Like the young elephants, young people who spend most of their time with peers may drift into a lifestyle that won’t work in the real world. Many are truly lost and need to find their way back to a path that lead to maturity” (p. 110).
A criticism of this book is its repetitive nature. Elmore spent three-fourths of the book describing the iYer and the remaining one-forth of the book showing how we as mentors and teachers can best reach them. I felt he could have condensed the descriptive narrative.
Some of the most helpful content was in the final three chapters that dealt with how mentors, teachers, and parents can best shape and move the iYer into maturity. Specifically helpful was Elmore’s seven stages of learning an iYer moves through has they incorporate truth and information into their world view. He then gives an example of how these worked out in the life of a young “cocky” iYer named Justin (p. 181-183).
Although not an overtly Christian book, Generation iY is certainly helpful to anyone who is trying to lead and mentor young people in the context of a Christian relationship. Elmore has a passion for developing these young people into leaders and I found his enthusiasm contagious. For more tools and information about growing iY leaders you can find them at Elmore’s organization. I would recommend this book anyone who is trying to get inside the mind of an iYer.
I remember playing Oregon Trail on the computer, using a dos operating system, and being rewarded in computer class by getting to use “paint”. Larry Rosen’s book, Rewired, is his attempt to bridge the gap between those that share my previously noted experiences, and those that now make fun of CD-Rom’s. This 2010 book was the culmination of years of research by a Psychology professor. Which leads me to my first critique of the book. 1) This is a book about teaching the next generation…written by a guy who doesn’t work in a classroom. I actually don’t know what classroom some of his ideas would work in. I work in a lower income school, and I can definitely tell you that our kids are not reading the encyclopedia on their phones in class, but texting anyone and everyone. As a professor, his life has been lived in theory, but the practical application is better suited for those in the class room. Many of Rosen’s ideas would be extremely difficult, impractical, and others impossible to implement into the classroom.
This book, for being written 4 years ago, is quite dated and, in my opinion, out of touch with middle and high school students and their technologically driven lives. A hint to Mr. Rosen, no high school or middle school student, even in 2010, used Myspace. None of my middle school students are wandering around on second life. In his defense, twitter, vine, instagram, and snap chat had not exploded onto the scene, but still his idea of technology is a bit dated at this point. Texting hadn’t gained the notoriety that it has to day as well. I appreciate his idea for creating a virtual class room for students to study in at home, but it seems unfeasible since they don’t have avatars.
Where this book is extremely helpful is in his cry for teachers to be thinking technologically and in his cultural analysis. As someone who attempted to engage students with material for 7 years, he lays out the challenge clearly and succinctly to us:
“our challenge as parents and educators is to create a match between students technological interests and skills, theirs sociological—often virtual—environments and the educational system that propels their performance to higher levels and is, at the same time, engaging enough to rekindle a love of school and learning.” (4)
The job of educators is to inspire their students to learn (I got that from “Here comes the boom”) and harnessing the power of technology can only do that. Students spend more time in front of a screen than anything else. When at a conference or concert, students in the front row still watch the screen instead of live. The other thing that Rosen excelled at was his cultural analysis. This is a multi-tasking generation. Wanna scare a student, tell them to work on their homework in silence. They would freak out. This is not only a multitasking generation but a creative generation. They have been convinced that they are all artists. And with vine, youtube, itunes, flickr, and instagram, they all are able to put their art out there.
Rosen attempted to show how to engage this generation in the classroom. I feel like he fell short of his goal because of his inability to speak across economic boundaries as well as understand the world of teachers. In theory this book was a good read, but his application and ideas left a lot to be desired. I believe better ideas will surface when teachers are able to showcase students creativity and problem solving ability online as opposed to teaching them online. The problem is a tougher fix than handing them an ipad.
Parenting is one of the most difficult yet rewarding tasks that God gives us in this life. Reggie Joiner and Carey Nieuwhof have written Parenting Beyond Your Capacity in order to give parents a model that encourages partnership between parents and community in influencing children and students. Churches need to partner with families…and families need to be involved in the life of the church. Joiner and Nieuwhof are both committed to the Orange Model of Church. This model, as shown in Joiner’s book Think Orange (2009), leverages the partnership between the love of the home (symbolized by the color red) and the light of the church (symbolized by the color yellow) mixing to create the color orange. Orange is about “two entities partnering to make a greater impact” (Think Orange, 24). Carey and Reggie, in this book, challenge the thinking that parenting can be an isolated venture. They offer 5 values parents can implement in order to raise their children to “demonstrate God’s love to the broken world.” (Parenting, 180)
Joiner begins the book by showing the three types of relationships that elevate and influence kids as they grow up. When its understood that kids being moving out when they enter middle school, these important relationships cant wait. The three relationships that Joiner says are vital are: 1) the relationship kids have with those outside the home; 2) their relationship with God; 3) their relationship with you, every student needs at least on other adult, outside the home, to instill truth into their life. As parents, you could be too near to the situation, to emotionally involved, or the rule maker that has been offended, thus the need to talk to another person about it. Whether it be a youth leader, family friend, or teacher, a student needs a community and a family to be raised. This book is not about being a perfect family, but rather a broken family that God is using to change the world. Thus the 5 values were created to keep families on the right track to becoming a family that lives out Deuteronomy 6 and the role that God has for them.
The first value is widening the circle of influence. Kids, according to the authors, need people outside the home to pour into them. In order to do this, parents must be connected to the world outside of the family. We must be intentional (a word often used in the book) as we search for mentors for our kids and be involved in our communities. They remind us that kids will one day search for affirmation from those outside of their parents…and that this shouldn’t upset us (youth ministers need to feel the same way)! The second value is living with the end in mind. Knowing what you would like your kids to grow up to be is a key to parenting beyond your capacity today. The third value, fighting for the heart, is all about never giving up on your kids. Staying in tension until its resolved, show your student that they are worth fighting for. The authors made a great statement when they said: “When you fight with someone, you want to win. When you fight for someone, you want that person to win…when you fight for people, relationships are prioritized.” Our children will always need a relationship with us. They will never outgrow our relationships, though they will change. Value 4 is about taking advantage of times when teaching can happen by creating a rhythm. Every day we wake up, eat meals, travel, and go to bed. How are you leveraging these times to invest in your kids. Deut. 6 shows the people of Israel these times as important…how are we using them. The authors challenge the reader to begin to use these times well. The fifth and final value is: making it personal. This chapter is about only leading where you are willing to go. Meaning we must internalize God’s relationship with us before we can pass it on to our kids. A relationship with God can only be passed on when it is on display at home. A culture of love at home between parent and child, only comes about when it is displayed between husband and wife. The authors challenged the parents to be moved first by God, so that they can move their children.
This book was a great read. It was fun and entertaining. It was reflective and personal. Though it lacked specific application and ideas for implementation. The authors come at this topic with many years of experience and pastoral stories. They have put into practice the ideas in this book. First and foremost, I feel like the church needs to get its act together in partnering with families. We as a church aren’t intentional in providing families with ideas and opportunities for families to come together. We segregate based on age, we divide based on life stage…where is our drive to bring families together. These men are leading a charge to foster a relationship of cooperation between family and the church. A relationship that is fleshed out in this book!