How a millennial describes her generation to a teacher

A Millennial student told a post-secondary professor an interesting comment the other day.

The topic was about the recent mid-term examinations. The exam was basically a multiple-choice test. For each question the prof assigned approximately 90 seconds to provide an answer.

The test was scheduled for one and a half hours.

During the exam, the prof realized that the bulk of the students completed their test and handed it in to him in under an hour. Most students did not take the allocated 90 minutes to complete the test.

At first, he thought ok, they’ve studied, they’ve been paying attention, that’s all good.

Then he started marking the tests.

I don’t know how many students did well but statistically it appears most are doing alright but not great. Many are just getting by. Some fail. This has been the general consensus over the years.

The prof wondered why that is. After all, most of the students disappeared immediately after they handed in their test, and as far as he could tell, few, if any, bothered to review their answers at all before leaving.

Later, the Millennial student he was talking to gave him an interesting insight. She said:

You don’t understand Millennials. We just wanna get it done.

It was my partner who told me this story. He was the prof in question. As he was talking to me, both our kids, tween and teen, were sitting nearby plugged into their devices.

As he repeated the above statement, we both automatically looked at our 13yo.

He’s still a kid, but the Millennial’s statement describes him perfectly.

And it makes me wonder. It makes me wonder how, or why, this hurry to ‘just get it done’ has become so prevalent with youth today.

Is it the texting, the instant gratification of all things technology? Is it the tweeting which is limited to 280 characters? Is it the horrible adulteration of the language by these kids who shorten and turn into slang every word they type with their thumbs? All in the name of ‘getting it done quickly’?



I worry about this. I see it too with simple things like chores, homework, other things we expect which they don’t want to do, don’t feel like doing, don’t care about.

Side note: They don’t behave this way with the things they enjoy doing.

But with the day-to-day obligations or expectations…their objective is to get it done as quickly as possible.

For me it’s a constant struggle to get them to pay attention, work with pride toward an accomplished end result, or at the very least complete the work. It’s almost a given that if they’re on kitchen duty (don’t get me started) I will have to go in and finish the last bit after they run off. Doesn’t matter how many times I illustrate to them what my expectation is of a kitchen that is cleaned up entirely, not half-assed as seems to be the standard (to them).

I don’t know what the answer is. Do you? What can we do?




28 thoughts on “How a millennial describes her generation to a teacher

  1. So according to one article I read, the millennial generation is from 22 to 37 years old. I have two older millennials (35 & 36) who were that way at home when they were growing up. They just wanted to get it done and didn’t really care. And this was before smart phones and all the tech we have now so I’m not sure that can be blamed. It’s just sorta the way teens are. Take heart – they have both grown into responsible men who do take the time they need to do a quality job whether it be at home or in the workplace. Secretly, I believe aliens have taken over their bodies… There are NOT the same men I had to deal with at 15 and 16! πŸ™‚

    Liked by 1 person

    1. This is what my partner and I were talking about yesterday too, that the ‘get it done quick so we can play’ is a kid/teen thing, not a millennial thing. I do find though that some (not all) young adults continue to stay this way well into adulthood…you see it in the work ethic, you see it in other places.

      At the same time, there are kids who are the opposite of that. They do exist, I know some personally and at least once commenter on this post mentioned her daughter is not one of those either who hands in tests without reviewing her answers.

      I didn’t realize the millennial age group goes into the mid 30s…that’s interesting.

      Thank you for contributing to this conversation. πŸ™‚


  2. After my younger child complained about something trivial, I told them all they had a cushy life and I was too soft on them.
    Now we have expected jobs after school, not just in summer.

    I’m a mean mom who limits their screen time, allows boredom, and occasionally decides we’re all going tech-free for a bit.

    Even still, my oldest has always been a cursory finisher like you described. The way the world is focuses on those natural traits of his and makes them worse.

    In reading your observations and others’ comments; I do believe we have a culture of fast work, high numbers, and short attention spans.

    And, it doesn’t help if we try to combat it. Instead, as an occasional writer of piecework for sales sites and blogs online, I am forever reminded to keep things short and keyword-heavy. The target audience barely reads; it skims.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Yes! The reading is nonexistent, the skimming/speed reading is. It’s unfortunate because I care about the words I churn out. Why agonize if no one cares?

      Well…some of us still care. πŸ™‚ Thank you for your feedback.

      Liked by 1 person

  3. That’s an interesting subject. “I just want to get it done” might explain why I as an older worker, now retired, found it so hard to work with millennial…..lack of work ethic and quality of work. But now with more and more companies imposing employee quotas (do more with less, just get the work done and meet your targets), that same attitude might be just what they want! Sadly, I worked in health care, where just getting it done, might also mean liability issues.

    Liked by 1 person

      1. Before I retired, they were starting to put quotas in place….number of flu shots for example. Diagnosis in ER in less than 30 minutes etc. Quotas in health care? Not what I signed up for. Some patients are more complicated and just take more time – you can’t just go by the numbers and say this should take x amount of time? I’m glad I’m done. Quotas seem to be the standard in many industries now – so the kids with that just get it done quick attitude just might turn out to be the high achievers!

        Liked by 1 person

  4. I’ve pretty much given up asking our kids to help in the kitchen. I don’t get angry about going in after them either. It transfers to meal preparation too – one day a couple of years ago our eldest looked in the kitchen cupboards and announced “great – we have no food”. Ten minutes later my other half appeared with a plate full of food for her. “How did you do that?” – “What do you mean?” – “How come you can just ‘rustle something up’? There was no food!”…

    Liked by 2 people

  5. I have several preteen relatives and they are addicted to playing fortnite, lovely children but I honestly believe they cannot cope with the concept of ever being bored, their tiny brains have to be plugged into tech for stimulation and entertainment! Perhaps they do display symptoms of addiction?

    Liked by 1 person

  6. Going back to my days of teaching in a high school classroom, this was VERY prevalent. Trying to teach students to “stick it out”, revise, draft, keep trying, do it over…all challenges. Instead, they write a essay – hit print and turn it in. No revision or even spell check done. Complete a test – jump from the chair and turn it in. No review. Read for a discussion? Hah! Do homework? Right.

    I believe it really comes down to a societal and cultural shift. It is now acceptable, in most cases, to fail. It didn’t used to be. There are two parts to this: Kids (a vast majority) won’t try something new because they won’t be good at it. They will fail, so they don’t try. If I can’t be good without putting in the work needed to be done (i.e practice), then why bother?However, when it comes to education, it is the reverse. It doesn’t matter if they fail because no one really holds them accountable. Got crappy grades? Its OK, the community college will accept them (should the choose to go to college) because they have money (or can get a loan) and as long as you pay, you’re in.

    I think someone earlier in the comments mentioned being bored. It also certainly is related to “being entertained” all the time.

    Liked by 5 people

    1. It’s so true what you say! They simply accept that if they know they won’t like it or are not good at it, it doesn’t matter, something else will turn up. No accountability whatsoever. Everyone is a snowflake.

      Drives Me Nuts.

      So if I try to do the opposite here at home (and I may simply have to change my approach, something that’s difficult to do when the kid ropes you into some emotional engagement), then it turns into a struggle that us parents are just tired of fighting constantly. So the kid sees it as ‘they’re too tired to debate this’ and they go off to do their thing.

      We have to be constantly diligent. And not give up. (We give up often enough…sigh)

      You know, I make it sound like my kids are like that all the time, and they are definitely not, but in the above illustrated examples (homework, chores) they definitely are like that. My partner keeps telling me, SO ARE EVERYONE ELSE’S KIDS OF THE SAME AGE.

      Which does nothing for me. Just makes me more depressed.

      Thank you for your feedback. πŸ™‚

      Liked by 1 person

      1. Kids don’t look ahead. They don’t see (most anyway) value in something that will “pay dividends” in the end/future. They are all about the NOW! One thing I have started doing with my own teen daughter is talking to her about the things I struggle with and showing her in my actions that I also have to struggle through things but do them any way. I don’t want her to think I don’t struggle with stuff. I don’t suffer in secret. There are lots of things I don’t like doing, but do them anyway because I know it will be better for me in the future. Parents often take that away from kids by protecting them from struggle, hurt, uncomfortable situations, etc. and we justify our actions with the “I just want them to have a better life than I had” statement. But, is that working? We’re robbing them of valuable lessons and rewards. Kids NEED to struggle so that they are required to think critically to solve the problem/issue. One way to teach that is to see the adults in their lives do it too.

        Liked by 2 people

    2. It is challenging to have college freshman read an article in class to discuss while with my adult learners, most do. I do lots of group activities and entrance level is high at this university but participation is challenging. I read your background backuphill. Now, you know why I owned a cupcake store for awhile!

      Liked by 1 person

      1. Oh, thanks for stopping in and taking a look around. I appreciate that!

        Adult learners are different, for sure. Life experience probably has something to do with that, that an maybe not having grown up in the “device in my hand at all times” generation.

        Liked by 2 people

      2. Well, sometimes I have also been surprised by my military adult learners. Some are retired and starting back from the BA. Not all recently have been diligent. I am not sure why but I still like their experiences they bring to class even when I am teaching them online. With the new generation, thinking outside the box works and sometimes I have some fantastic students and am amazed by them. I have had some students from China, Vietnam who were writing with English as a foreign language and they were impressive. I try to roll with the flow and keep a smile or a sense of humor nearby.

        Liked by 2 people

  7. As a parent one needs to explain why there is a need to be careful and thorough. I think we tend to rush through things. Part of the problem is societies refusal to ever be bored. We jump from one thing to another because it gets boring. Also, parents allow their kids to quit things too quickly. All these things add up to what you said. But tell your partner that my daughter has never left a test quickly…she uses extra time to check her answers and make things better. And she’s a solid, top level student. So those kids are out there. Her friends are the same way. Don’t give up hope just yet

    Liked by 3 people

  8. What does your partner teach? I find this attitude common with writing. Most hate to revise or improve. I had one student tell me the other day…you gave me a good mark on the draft, why should I? That taught me a lesson about him. I won’t be so easy on his draft next time. However, I said, the draft and the final are two very different papers.

    Liked by 3 people

      1. I teach rhetoric and critical thinking skills building upon what has been taught already and try to further critical thinking skills. I do very well with adult learners and with 18-21 years old, I am still learning the ropes.

        Liked by 1 person

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