D & I: How Generationally Intelligent Are You?

 by Luke Rees

Before I begin I must make a confession – I am sorry to tell you that I am one of those spontaneous, impatient and idealistic millennials. Therefore, this article was written on impulse and the content must be applied immediately by everyone who reads it as a matter of extreme urgency. Yes, that’s right, I was born between 1981 and 1996 and belong to the biggest generation in western history, in fact, there are currently around 17 million of us in the UK. 

 Being a teacher in a school like PGS is a joy for a whole host of reasons. Our pupils are delightful, my colleagues are committed, our parents are engaged and there is an aspirational vibe that I have not witnessed in any other school, and I have visited a good number across the world. Ironically one benefit that many who are involved in education overlook is the true diversity of generations they are exposed to on a daily basis. This can be a challenge of course; however, the richness of lived experiences at a school such as PGS where our youngest pupils are two and some teachers are in their sixties is truly fascinating. It leads to huge learning opportunities for all and is a core element of our strategic aims. It is not just our teachers who coach and inspire at PGS!

Generational intelligence is an interest of mine, in fact, I would argue that it should be an interest for many more leaders, educationalists and policy makers across the world. My rudimentary understanding of the various generation traits allows me to pitch my lessons appropriately, engage with parents on delicate issues more effectively, reflect on my own thought processes and lead a committed and motivated team. I used my understanding most successfully when designing and launching our new Sixth Form curriculum. The courses were designed for Gen Z, who will be the future managers of Gen Alpha, and the program had to meet the high expectations of a generation famed for their general mistrust of institutional authority - Gen X (sorry parents). The curriculum is forward looking, there is a strong focus on transferable skills, and I’m delighted that the feedback to date has been overwhelmingly positive.

Many observers would critique the broad generalisations that commentators in this space produce, and of course, they would be right that all individuals have their very own unique set of values, characteristics, and experiences. However, I can testify that developing my understanding of generational intelligence has had a huge positive impact in the way I teach, the way I lead and even the way I parent.

The purpose of my ramblings are to introduce some new ideas to those who are not familiar with GI and to encourage greater interaction, tolerance and understanding across generations. I am certainly not an expert in this field, but I have been inspired by wonderful thought leaders such as Simon Sinek and Eliza Filby. My aim is to signpost the value of generational intelligence to the PGS community and my wider network. Look out for my next few short articles which will offer some insights into the different generations we have in our splendidly diverse school community.