Talking About My Generation (Part 1)
August 19, 2013

Talking About My Generation (Part 1)

Beginning August 12, 2013, I was back on campus prepping for the fall semester, which begins today, August 19, 2013. For the 12th and 13th, I worked in my office looking at curriculum and getting my course management system in line. I am teaching five different classes, which means five different preps, of course. And I decided to re-envision all of my classes this semester. I just felt it was time to redo and rework. I do some revising each semester, but I am trying totally new stuff in each of my classes. It excites me, which I hope will help excite my students.

Then, on the 14th, we had our in-service meetings. These happen once a year, always in August before the new fall semester. All college employees — faculty, staff, and administration alike — gather for campus updates, presentations, guest speakers, and events. It is a time to be told what is new on campus, who is new on campus, and to gain a little professional development, ideally. It is also a time for everyone to mingle, catch up, and learn from and about each other.

This year’s guest speaker was Dr. Rita Murray, a motivational speaker and consultant. She spoke to us about the generational differences in the four generations of today: Traditionalists, Baby Boomers, Generation Xers, and Millennials. I have extensively researched the generations, so it was really more a refresher for me, but many of my colleagues felt the broad characteristics of each generation really helped. For that reason, I want to write a series about them now.

Before I go into each generation, I do want to preface with this: these are general characteristics, and in some cases stereotypes. Obviously, not every person of each generation will have the same beliefs, feelings, and actions, but many do, thus the reason for attaching such characteristics to the generations. Know that I write these without judgment. That is important.

When we understand where different people come from in terms of experience, culture, society, and even climate, we have a better idea of just how to interact, help, and communicate with them. This is especially true when dealing with different generations. One generation to the next can be so drastically different that they struggle to connect.

Learning about the different generations really helped me to better understand those around me and even helped me understand myself. This has been most helpful for me in teaching. I can use these characteristics to help me with my students, no matter what their generation. I will write a breakdown of each generation taken partially from Dr. Murray’s presentation, as well as other online sources and my own understanding of each generation. I will talk about the four distinct generations at play today: Traditionalist, Baby Boomer, Generation X, and Millennial. Before jumping into each individual generation, here is a breakdown of the time period for each generation. CNN identifies the age groups but also notes that there is a bit of variability in these.

Traditionalists: 1928-1945

Baby Boomers: 1946-1964

Generation Xers: 1965-1980

Millennials: 1981-2004

Most sources agree pretty close to CNN’s findings, give or take year. For full disclosures sake, I am on the cusp of Generation X and Millennial. I will explain more about this as I finish the series.

My hope is that through understanding the generations, we can better understand each other and ourselves. Now, onto those traditionalists.

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Rayshell E. Clapper is an Associate Professor of English at a rural college in Oklahoma where she teaches Creative Writing, Literature, and Composition classes. She has presented her original fiction and non-fiction at several conferences and events including: Scissortail Creative Writing Festival, Howlers and Yawpers Creativity Symposium, Southwest/Texas Pop Culture Association/American Culture Association Regional Conference, and Pop Culture Association/American Culture Association National Conference. Her publications include Cybersoleil Journal, Sugar Mule Literary Magazine, Red Dirt Anthology, Originals, and Oklahoma English Journal. Beyond her written works, she successfully created a writer's group in rural Oklahoma to support burgeoning writers. The written word is her passion, and all she experiences inspires that passion. She hopes to help inspire others through her words.

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