Rethinking our perception of today's students

August 4, 2023

Whenever talking education, it never seems to take long to get to the doom and gloom…and in particular, students growing up in the digital age seem to have a certain stigma attached to them.

"They are glued to screens" "They have no work ethic" "They need to spend more time outside” "They are not gaining the necessary skills for when they enter the workforce"

This stigma deviates from the typical “those crazy kids are always causing trouble” but rather one that instills real worry in people in regards to the future.

Take this for what it is worth, but as someone who has been in the classroom with a diverse set of thousands students over the past 2 years…I just wanted to offer a little bit of perspective and share a couple of anecdotes I hope will help shed some positive light on today’s students.

Now, is there some truth rooted in all those negative connotations? Of course! Kids probably should be spending more time outside getting their hands dirty, etc.! But a reminder we have to set for ourselves is how different things are for children today, even from 5 years ago, much less 40 years... Would we really behave any differently than they are if we were in their shoes?

Whether or not we are fans of popular platforms like Roblox, TikTok, etc. as adults, something we need to keep in mind is that students actually are being creative while using them! They are building worlds, choreographing dances from scratch, optimizing strategies, and more!

I think it is up to us as educators, family members, & communities to set students up for opportunities to showcase that natural creativity in schools and in the real world! Here at STIIX, that was our mission while founding our organization. We are now working with dozens of school district partners in an after-school environment, where our team gets to watch students tackle hands-on, unscripted design challenges. That open-ended nature of the projects allows for kids to be creative with their ideas as there is no wrong answers.

Saying these kids shock me with their imagination and ideas would be an understatement. Every time I get sent a picture from one of our instructors or pop in a classroom myself, I see new design solutions from the kids that are unbelievably clever!

One specific activity that comes to mind is our Architecture project. Here, students are tasked with building their dream home on a plot of land given some unique materials and a pricing sheet. As you can imagine, dream homes come in all different shapes and sizes: a ranch, penthouse, and everything in between! We have seen it all and marvel at the imagination and execution.

So please don't write these students off yet. They are starving for chances for meaningful learning coming out of the pandemic. If we continue to invest and believe in them now, we can fast forward 30 years and I promise our companies will be just fine, innovation will still be occurring at a rapid pace, and guess what? Although things may be done a little bit differently, it will be these kids who are the ones leading us into what I believe will be a bright future!    

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