Principals Pen Wednesday, 16 May 2018

The children now love luxury. They have bad manners, contempt for authority; they show disrespect for elders and love chatter in place of exercise.

Sound familiar? This could be a quote from someone in my grandparents’ generation or even in my own generation. It is, however, a quote from classical Greek philosopher, Socrates, who lived in the 5th century BC.

At last week’s National Lutheran Principals Conference, it was my absolute delight to immerse myself in a host of statistics from social researcher Mark McCrindle. Mark used 2016 Census data and some aspects of his Education Future Report to assist school leaders in understanding the challenges that exist for faith-based schools into the future.

I find it fascinating to observe how different generations are shaped through such things as technology, pop culture and social interaction. Take, for example, the following.


Baby Boomers

Gen X

Gen Y

Gen Z

Gen Alpha

Age 73+

Age 54-72

Age 39-53

Age 24-38

Age 9-23

Age under 9

Iconic Cars

Model T Ford

Ford Mustang

Holden Commodore

Toyota Prius

Tesla Model S

Autonomous cars

Iconic Toys

Roller skates


Rubix Cube

BMX bike

Folding scooter

Fidget spinner

Music Devices

Record player

Audio cassette




Smart speakers

Leadership style







Influenced by







Learning style








Proper English, if you please

Groovy, peace, way out, cool

Dude, ace, wicked, as if

Foshizz, d’oh, bling, wassup

Totes, squad, idk, whatevs

Lit, fam, yas, RN, hundo

Mark McCrindle 2018

The items in this table are obviously a generalisation, but you get the gist. Each generation is vastly different from the next, affected by different social markers. So how do we communicate across generations? How do older generations authentically connect with younger generations? And where are our shared values?

As Socrates demonstrated with his quote above, throughout history older generations have often doubted or even denigrated younger generations. Why? I don’t know. Fear of the unfamiliar or the unknown, perhaps? Or maybe a desire to hold on tightly to the things that mattered to them, which are not seen by the next generation as being of value? (I’m thinking at the moment of how precious my double-cassette deck was to me in my teenage years. Almost as precious as my Liquid Paper.)

When we think towards the future and consider our younger generations, let’s not think in terms of which generation would ‘do it right’. After all, ‘right’ is in the eyes of the beholder. Let’s instead celebrate how each generation is different and brings unique insights and strengths. Personally, I am so inspired and energised by the way our Gen Alpha Living Faith students think. This is a generation of children who are compassionate problem-solvers. They use information resources in a way no other generation has, in order to solve real-world problems in an effort to reverse damage that we older generations have caused. They are globally-minded critical thinkers who demonstrate persistence, forgiveness, creativity and care. Their attention span differs from older generations because they are such quick and busy thinkers, influenced by technology that, for the most part, serves to support and enhance human life. It’s exciting, don’t you think? Our future is in good hands!

One thing that doesn’t change is Jesus Christ. He is the ‘same yesterday and today and forever’ (Hebrews 13:8). This is where our shared values lie. The grace, love and mercy of our amazing Friend and Saviour is steadfast; it spans generations and crosses borders. Jesus is the one true foundation on which all generations can rely. I repeat – our future is in good hands!

- Jane Mueller