As school starts up again, I'm reminded more and more of just how many years have passed since I was looking forward to graduation.
I remember stepping in to high school as a freshman, wet behind the ears and putting big plans in my spiral notebook. Cell phones were at least 15 years in the future, and most everyone drove cars with a manual transmission.
The class of 2014 has never found Korean-made cars unusual on the Interstate and five hundred cable channels, of which they will watch a handful, have always been the norm. Since "digital" has always been in the cultural DNA, they've never written in cursive and with cell phones to tell them the time, there is no need for a wrist watch. Dirty Harry (who’s that?) is to them a great Hollywood director. The America they have inherited is one of soaring American trade and budget deficits; Russia has presumably never aimed nukes at the United States and China has always posed an economic threat.
They will be armed with iPhones and BlackBerries, on which making a phone call will be only one of many, many functions they will perform. They will now be awash with a computerized technology that will not distinguish information and knowledge. So it will be up to their teachers to help them.
A generation accustomed to instant access will need to acquire patience. They will discover how to research information in books and journals and not just on-line. Their teachers, who might be tempted to think that they are hip enough and therefore ready and relevant to teach the new generation, might remember that Kurt Cobain is now on the classic oldies station.
The class of 2014 reminds us, once again, that a generation comes and goes in the blink of our eyes, which are, like the rest of us, getting older and older.