THE BLOG
21/11/2013 07:29 GMT | Updated 25/01/2014 16:01 GMT

The Nature and Nurture of Generation Y

It is in the nature of young people to be exuberant, full of vitality, energy and life. They should be ready for everything, wanting to make a mark on the world, bursting with joy. Right now, a large number of the products of our education system are almost the polar opposite. Generation Y flops exhausted at the end of their University degree, already world-weary, frightened, fearful and in debt. Their nature suppressed by the nurturing they have received.

As Ken Robinson says our education system was created by the Victorians to supply the industrial revolution with a malleable and easily controlled workforce. The mantras of our education system and culture were cynical and fearful in those days.

Whilst in school:

Don't laugh, don't be joyful, or have fun

Don't make mistakes

Keep your head down

Comply with the 'norm'

Don't question

When you leave education:

Don't be ambitious, know your place

Be selfish and self-serving if you want to get on

Compete and climb the ladder

Unfortunately, little has changed. We continue to perpetuate an education system and work/life balance based on the suppression of individuality and creativity. We propogate a fearful and cynical view of the world. This state of being is not in our nature, it is how we have nurtured our young people for almost two hundred years.

When exposed to these kinds of messages and pressure Generation Y do as best they can. They want to please their elders and betters - they are programmed to perpetuate their species and the predominant culture. So, they absorb these damaging and soul-destroying messages.

No wonder by the time they leave higher education they are confused, ill-prepared, fearful, up to their necks in debt, and will settle for 'any job', rather than 'the job'. This confusion can easily become disillusionment and cynicism. Many young people are rejecting our culture and seeking alternatives, and in the meantime feel angry, upset and let down.

We have been inconsistent in our attitude towards young people, giving them mixed messages. 'We--the people in suits--often see hoodies as aggressive, the uniform of a rebel army of young gangsters. But hoodies are more defensive than offensive. They're a way to stay invisible in the street. In a dangerous environment the best thing to do is keep your head down, blend in.' Said the caring parliamentary candidate David Cameron in 2006.

'It's time to mug a hoodie.' - said the same man, as Prime Minister, in 2012.

Have our young people become so much more trouble in just 6 short years?

Fortunately, despite our interference, a large percentage of Generation Y have managed to retain their natural exuberance. By doing so they are now creating alternatives to our culture which hopefully will answer some of the serious environmental and social problems we are now facing. In order to help them do this successfully we need to re-learn how to nurture and encourage them. 'Our prime purpose in this life is to help others' Dalai Lama

As human beings it is in our nature to nurture. Our duty, as the older generations, is to give young people our unconditional support and encouragement, not to suppress them and create fear. We need to stimulate their growth, allow them to make mistakes, encourage them to be optimistic, loving, emotionally intelligent and compassionate.

That will not be an easy task for us, because these qualities do not come easily whilst enmeshed in the materialist machine. We will need to find these qualities in ourselves before we can nurture them in our young people. To begin with we should remember teenagers are not teenagers forever, first and foremost, they are citizens, human beings on the same journey. We all seek the same things.

Without much justification we expect Generation Y to respect and trust us, they don't, and they are pretty suspicious of our motives. As the older, more wise, generation we need to show young people respect and trust, and then they will show it to us. That is the starting point for a radical change in our behaviour, education system, work/life balance, and so much more. We all, even the hoodies, given the opportunity will seek to create a more diverse, creative, compassionate society in which we can all contribute happily and with joy. We need to role model such a culture and behaviour to our young people, we need to believe in a better way, before they will start believing in us.