I file this under "Entrepreneurship" because this is a cause about which I’m most passionate: life entrepreneurship. In particular, what the effects of a micromanaged generation is on tomorrow’s entrepreneurs and agents of change. David Brooks, in his blog available for TimesSelect users, responds to a reader’s question about this. He says "watch for the mid-life crisis." Indeed.
Link: Brooks – NYT Web Journal.
I’ve spent a lot of time thinking about whether we are raising a generation of followers, not leaders. The University of Michigan does studies of how children spend their time. The results show that since 1986, we have been raising the most supervised generation of children in history. Kids spend less and less time just hanging around or inventing their own games, and more and more time in adult-supervised skill-enhancing activities.
They spend between a third and a fifth less time hanging around the neighborhood and between a third and fifth more time going to soccer practice, oboe practice, S.A.T. prep and what have you.
College professors frequently tell me that they wish students would challenge them more. On the other hand there’s clear evidence that children are getting along much better with their parents. In short, it’s a lot less cool to be a rebel. Will this lead to a population of lemmings? Frankly, I don’t see that in the young people around me. The hippies, when you get down to it, were pretty conformist in their own way.
Will they on the other hand, suffer from the biggest mid-life crisis of any generation in history once they get tired of work and being good? Watch for it. Should be fun.
3 comments on “The Next Generation: Leaders or Followers? Entrepreneurs or Cogs?”
Be careful about judging a generation by the average. Most of the folks I meet in the 18-24 age bracket are incredibly smart and highly individual. Of course, the demographics of people that seek me out are probably a bit unusual!
If you go through a typical education you are not trained to do your own thinking. Kids are spoon fed stuff that doesn’t interest them so they are not active learners. How much do you remember from high school? Many kids are lucky to even be proficient at reading and writing when they graduate from high school let alone to have any interest in learning on their own. This is especially true in the healthcare industry. Most people eat unhealthy foods but instead of listening to people like me they choose toxic drugs that their doctor tells them they should take.
Chris – I think the average of the population defines a generation. Not the extraordinary.