Thursday, November 8, 2007

"The X is For eXcellent, Dude!" (And Also eXhausting.)

Perhaps some of the "senior faculty" should read up on understanding "Gen X" (the current generation of junior faculty) and see why it is that we are the way we are.

While the baby boomers trust the academic institution, Gen-X has grown up without that kind of trust. Why? How many of you honestly think we will get social security when we retire? (even though we will pay hundreds of thousands of dollars into a soon-to-be-bankrupt system over the course of our lives)

We don't like committees - they slow us down. We are used to having our ideas heard instantly and valued by our peers, and can't stand the time it takes for ideas to trickle through five levels of bureaucratic hierarchy to reach anyone who can actually act on them.

For a generation who wants instant feedback to wait seven years for their institution to give them "feedback" on our job performance (tenure), is maybe just testing our patience a bit much. In this article reference I included it actually says "An effective mentoring relationship with them [Gen-Xers] must be as hands-off as possible. Providing feedback on their performance should play a big part, as should encouraging their creativity and initiative to find new ways to get tasks done." How about giving pre-tenure reviews every year so that we can see we are on track or not on track? That would be effective mentoring.

As a tenured Gen-Xer at an academic institution (where I have managed to last for five whole years), I feel completely stifled by the unnecessary difficulty involved in a) having an idea be heard by the folks that run the college, b) getting new technology in our classrooms, c) obtaining an upgrade to my computer (more layers of ridiculous paperwork and upper level decision making), d) being recognized for non-traditional forms of scholarship (like, for example, writing a nationally-read blog in my field).

Gen-Xers want to be recognized for their accomplishments, not ignored. If we are moving on, perhaps you haven't done enough to try to understand us and are just trying to make us fit in to your mold. You might even consider that we have something to teach you.