Gen Xers are pragmatic, adaptable, techno-literate and good at multitasking. They grew up dealing with change. The children of early Boomers, they have always been in the Boomers’ shadow. Many were raised in single-parent families, or with both parents working, and are often described as the generation that raised itself. The term “latchkey kids” was coined for them.
Gen Xers are very comfortable with changing technology, having grown up with personal computers, video games, remote controls and TV with 200 channels. Deﬁning events in their lives included the end of the Cold War, the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms, free trade agreements, AIDS, economic uncertainty, increased drugs use and violence, and the faces of missing children on milk cartons.
Gen Xers are a sceptical generation – they need proof. They grew up seeing institutions and revered public ﬁgures wracked by scandal. As a result they respect competence and have more faith in themselves and their peer group than in external authority. They are loyal to their relationships but not necessarily to institutions. They are the ﬁrst generation to date in groups.
Teachers who are Gen Xers work hard and spend cautiously, having begun their careers with heavy education debt loads. They know they are the ﬁrst generation that may not surpass their parents economically.
Gen Xers also want balance: they are not prepared to sacriﬁce their health, marriages, relationships, and personal lives to career as their parents did. Freedom is their ultimate reward. They seek autonomy, a comfortable schedule, and time to spend with family and friends (who are generally not people from work).
Gen Xers started teaching in the mid-1980s, and prefer a casual and relaxed workplace. They see many Baby Boomer achievements – like protection for seniority – as an impediment rather than a protection against indiscriminate layoffs.
They have also experienced radical changes in the profession and in the workplace: the recession of the early 90s; the “social contract” imposed by the provincial NDP government; the subsequent election of a Conservative government that cut education funding; the creation of a professional regulatory body, the College of Teachers; school board amalgamations; the amalgamation of teachers’ federations and the removal of principals as members of the federation; new curriculum and standardized testing.
Echo Boomers – a planned childhood