Teach Your Children Well

OK, so the song by Crosby, Stills and Nash is one of my favorites (although I never got the sheet music and added it to my repertoire). In this 60s song, one verse says parents teach your children well; then in typical fashion for the times, it flips it over and tells the children to teach your parents well.

This week my travels took me again to Orlando and another engineering conference. A friend of mine put together a session on transferring engineering and process knowledge from the aging baby boomers to the new millennial generation. His co-presenter was not only young but also female. She has a BS degree in Chemical Engineering, is 29, and a staff engineer for Eastman Chemicals Co.

Their topic was learning styles.

Collaboration. Younger people are much more collaborative than we were when I was learning engineering. We were given tasks by the almighty and all knowing manager, and we went out to do them. Because knowledge is more easily found on the Web, young people don’t look to their superiors (organizationally speaking) as the fount of all possible knowledge. They look at them as mentors and coaches who collaborate with them and teach how to approach problems.

New data sources. They have books on iPads, smart phones to look up things on the Web and to text peers to find answers to questions.

Conclusions. What surprised me in the session which was well attended by a mixture of ages was the attitude of several of the older engineers. “Well, if they get all knowledge from the Web, will they have any depth? Any problem-solving skills?”

In this case, they all have college engineering degrees. An engineering degree is primarily a course of study on problem solving. Depth comes through experience. If the guy would mentor a young person, then growth happens.

So, I’m thinking about this paradigm in relation to other organizations. I’m not a youth pastor, but are they able to incorporate this collaborative learning style and mentoring capability? Today’s crop of younger pastors tend to be more “teachers” than “preachers.” People don’t like to be preached at, but most people enjoy learning new ideas.

The weird thing is that even though I am technically a “boomer,” I’ve never felt like one. I’m much more at home with the style and thinking of the millennials. I hope more people of my generation can adapt and help bring the new generation along–whether it’s engineering or become a disciple of Jesus.

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