Class of 2012 – The children of Year 7

August 28, 2012

Alright, so technically, they’ll be the class of 2016, but 2012 seemed like a snappier title.   This is a post I’ve been meaning to write for a few years now, since I started to notice what being 11 in any particular year actually meant.   Until now though, it’s always just been a pub conversation.

For the 11 year-old students starting at Cramlington Learning Village in September 2012, what has the world been like for them, compared to how it was for us?

Year 7 have never known a world without mobile phones

Nokia_6510 - from 2001

These things. Just in case you haven’t heard of them.

Recently, I was on holiday in Florida and we visited EPCOT where they have the international village.  For those of you who don’t know, this is a kitsch but cute, stereotypical representation of a bunch of different countries.  GB’s featured a pub, fish and chips, tea garden etc… and a red telephone box.  I overheard one parent explaining to their child:

“That’s a phone box, it’s what people used before we had cellphones if they needed to make a call when they were out.”

That’s when it struck me, the biggest change we have seen that is probably the rise of mobile technology, yet for every 11 year-old  they have always been in their life.  Incidentally, the iPhone was released in 2007, so these students will remember the world without smart phones, but only just.

All our pop culture is out of date

Andy Warhol's Marilyn

I have no idea who this is. Someone famous apparently. When’s Big Brother on?

These kids were born in 2001, that means the Star Wars prequels largely predate them.

  • The Phantom Menace, 1999 (before they were born)
  • Attack of the Clones in 2002 (they were 1)
  • Revenge of the Sith in 2005 (they were 4, but still capable of writing a better explanation than MidiChlorians)

For them, Star Wars has always been 6 films.  The Matrix (1999) predates them.  Lord of the Rings is the same age as them.  These students have grown up with only one Batman, Christian Bale – the previous Batman (George Clooney) was in 1997.

They have never known a “new” Star Trek TV series (ST: Enterprise ran from 2001 to 2005).  On the plus side, they have never known a world without Doctor Who. 🙂

They have also never watched Saturday Morning Kids TV.   Live and Kicking ended in 2001, SMTV:Live in 2003.  I’m sure they have watched TV on Saturdays, but not 3 hours of tailored entertainment.  Just James Martin in a kitchen endlessly making omelettes.

When you think back to the seminal films, music and culture of the past three decades, almost all of it is just background noise to these students.  I try to counsel teachers to not include pop culture references in their work for this very reason, they just date so quickly.  Referring to Rocky might engage the PE staff, but the only movie released in the students’ lifetime was about an old guy coming out of retirement.  And the less said about Indiana Jones the better.

It’s also a fair bet they have never used or even seen a VHS.

They have never seen a car unlocked with a key

This one is highly likely, but it’s always possible that some students might have seen an old car at some point.  But when was they last time you saw a car not blink its lights when the owner approached?  TV shows in the 80s regularly featured cars backfiring.  I have never seen this in real life.  Apparently it used to happen quite a bit up until the 70s.  A student watching a TV show where someone unlocks a car physically must have the same level of disconnect as me watching a TV car backfire.

Car Key

You used to stick that where?!?

 They have never known British Athletes to be bad at sport

Alright, you have to ignore football, but other than that:

  • In 1996 at the Atlanta Olympics, Team GB won 1 Gold, 8 Silver and 6 Bronze medals and came 36th in the medal table
  • In 2000, Britain came 10th, 11 Gold, 10 Silver, 7 Bronze
  • In 2004, 10th again, with 9 Gold, 9 Silver and 12 Bronze
  • In 2008, Team GB came 4th – 19 Gold, 13 Silver, 15 Bronze

And we all know the result of the 2012.   These kids have never seen the country fail, they have no need for the scepticism of my generation.

There has always been an Internet

A 56k dial-up modem

A 56k dial-up modem – this page would have taken about 2 hours to open back in the day. Still faster than rural internet.

I bought a router in 1998 and taught myself HTML.  That’s how old the internet is for most people.  Before 1997-2000, the internet was still something fairly academic.  Most people’s first experience of the world-wide-web was at university.  I remember being taught how to email in 1994 – it was on the text-based UNIX system.

Look at our lives now.  We practically couldn’t function without the internet.  These kids have only known this world.  And a lot of them will have never experienced 56k dial-up!

Up until 2010, their country was only ever governed by Labour

And Scotland and Wales have always had their own Parliaments.

They have never known their country not at war

In 2001, terrorist hijackers flew two planes into the World Trade Center, another into the Pentagon and a fourth was prevented from crashing into its intended target by the heroic actions of its passengers.  And from that point on, the United Kingdom and its allies have been involved in armed conflict in Afghanistan and Iraq.

I was born in the 70s, grew up in the 80s and 90s.  In that time, there was the Falklands Conflict, the Gulf War and the NATO action in Kosovo.  War for my generation was something short-lived.  This generation has never known peace.


The NQTs of 2012

The new teachers of 2012  (assuming 3 years University, 1 year teacher training) could be as young as 22/23.  They were born in 1989/1990.  So, what does that mean:

  • They were born the same year as the first Tim Burton Batman movie and the last (good) Indiana Jones
  • They were 7 when the Spice Girls went global
  • They grew up with handheld games consoles like the Nintendo Gameboy
  • They will have owned a Tamgotchi
  • They will have been too old for Tellytubbies
  • They won’t have been allowed to stay up for the X-Files (1993)
  • Friends (1994) was probably over their heads.  This lot will have watched Will & Grace and That 70s Show
  • Germany was always one country and the USSR ended in when they were 2/
  • And most importantly, for these youngsters, Marathon has always been Snickers.
A Snickers bar

NO! Never! The line must be drawn here. Chocolate + Caramel + Peanuts + mallowy stuff = Marathon.
I don’t give a stuff what you call Opal Fruits.